Heather Blazing, TheToibin, Colm
A High Court judge who, nearing retirement, is made to understand that he has hardly begun to live. Redmond's survey of his life is etched against the Wexford coastline. Irish novel.
Comments from GroupsThe group thoroughly enjoyed the book, agreeing that it was sad though not depressing. The writer kept us all entranced.... Picton 002 We found the book very sombre, but after discussing the issues of politics and law raised, most wished to reread it. We found Eamon Redmond to be a fascinating character; and the questions stimulated excellent discussion. Westport 001 We were all surprised at how much we enjoyed this book. Although it was quiet and unassuming, it made a strong impact. Tauranga 014 We loved this book and would have liked to keep it! We found it sombre, but enjoyed his spare cutback prose. Timaru 007 Some members found the book boring, others said it was quiet and gentle with its own revealing rhythm. West Otago 001 Most people enjoyed this book, for its many layers and use of language. A couple have read more of his books since. Nelson 015 Most loved the descriptions and the Irish history content. We felt the story of the old man's life was brilliantly portrayed - his lonely childhood reflected in his attitudes to life. Pirongia 001
Divided opinion - Everyone agreed that the book was very well-written, superb descriptions that transported you to the very place. Some of the group felt it flatlined and they were left with anticipation waiting for something to happen. Others felt that the strength of the writing was in the pared back writing style with an almost ordinariness to it describing events without over dramatising in a way that showed the everyday life of the characters.
What superb writing! We all felt we were part of the Irish setting. A real example of " Show, don't Tell". Eamon Redmond carried within himself all the tragedies of his childhood and was able to tighten himself enough to carry the load and continue with his life, but one asks, at what cost Justice, religion, morality and politics are all stepping stones which lead to the summer cottage, the coast and the cleansing sea. Our group loved the work, a second reading by some who encouraged others to reread in the future.
This reflection on how Irish society was transformed by entry into the EU in the 1990s provided a good basis for a wide-ranging discussion about how we cope with sudden change. Well written, with topical themes.
Mixed reaction but overall we enjoyed it, loved the descriptive narrative- could imagine being there.
Not a fun read, but one with more in it than we realised at first glance.
One person in the group thought this was the best book of the year. The others thought it interesting, but the repression of the main character made it a demanding read. All agreed it was beautifully written.
Terrific writer - wastes no words. We enjoyed this book.
Great admiration for Colm Toibin's sparse, pared down writing which conveyed so much without making demands of the reader. 70% of the group (some of whom had read the book 1st time round in 2001, found re-reading it a good thing) appreciated the historic detail, the portrayal of a life lived outside the warmth of compassion, and while not agreeing with his judgement of the pregnant girl, could relate to why. The other 30% could not warm to Eamonn and therefore derived little pleasure from the book. A thoughtful discussion.
Our group really enjoyed this book although it was gloomy. The writer portrayed a lot of feeling (emotion or the lack of it), in an easy to read but thought provoking way. Several people would read another of his books.