The Little Red Chairs (Hardcover)
One night, in the dead of winter, a mysterious stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Broodingly handsome, worldly, and charismatic, Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, a self-proclaimed holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Before long, the beautiful black-haired Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and, defying the shackles of wedlock and convention, turns to him to cure her of her deepest pains.
Then, one morning, the illusion is abruptly shattered. While en route to pay tribute at Yeats's grave, Dr. Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a notorious war criminal and mass murderer. The Cloonoila community is devastated by this revelation, and no one more than Fidelma, who is made to pay for her deviance and desire. In disgrace and utterly alone, she embarks on a journey that will bring both profound hardship and, ultimately, the prospect of redemption.
Moving from Ireland to London and then to The Hague, The Little Red Chairs is Edna O'Brien's first novel in ten years -- a vivid and unflinching exploration of humanity's capacity for evil and artifice as well as the bravest kind of love.
About the Author
"[An] extraordinary articulation of the lingering effects of trauma.... In the end, what leaves one in humbled awe of The Little Red Chairs is O'Brien's dexterity, her ability to shift without warning - like life - from romance to horror, from hamlet to hell, from war crimes tribunal to midsummer night's dream. And through it all, she embeds the most perplexing moral challenge ever conceived.... At a time when our best writers are such delightfully showy stylists, O'Brien...practices a darker, more subtle magic. Surprise and transformation lurk in even the smallest details, the most ordinary moments."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
"Boldly imagined and harrowing.... Here, in addition to O'Brien's celebrated gifts of lyricism and mimetic precision, is a new, unsettling fabulist vision that suggests Kafka more than Joyce....A work of meditation and penance."—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Times Book Review, "Editors' Choice"
"O'Brien achieves a tone at once mythical and contemporary, archetypal and particularized, and does wonderful things with voice and tense.... The Little Red Chairs has much to recommend it: beautiful writing, immense ambition, a vivid cast of supporting characters, and a rigorous humanitarian ethos."—Priscilla Gilman, Boston Globe
"One of [O'Brien's] best and most ambitious novels yet. The Little Red Chairs is personal and political; charming and grotesque; a novel of manners and a novel of monsters.... O'Brien's undiminished gifts as a storyteller draw us in and then awaken us to the limits of our own blinkered vision, the fragility of our own safe havens."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR
"The Little Red Chairs is a daring invention set at the bloody crossroads where worlds collide: savage, tender and true."—John Banville
"Reading The Little Red Chairs reaffirms a belief I've held since I first read Ms. O'Brien's work: She is, quite simply, a master."—Kevin Powers
"Edna O'Brien's The Little Red Chairs is a gem of a novel, a text to treasure."—Nuruddin Farah
"A memorable work of art for our unsettled times.... [O'Brien's] prose is as lyrically arresting as ever, her vision as astute, and as delicate. The Little Red Chairs is notable for its interweaving of the near-mythical and the urgent present, and for its unflinching exploration of the complex and lasting effects of human brutality.... At once arduous and beautiful, The Little Red Chairs marries myth and fact in a new form that journeys, as we do now, from Cloonoila to The Hague, from fairytale to contemporary agon."—Claire Messud, Financial Times
"Intoxicating.... O'Brien takes up her signature themes--close-knit communities, love and hate for the homeland, the plight of women, loss and desire, victimhood, romantic love--and casts their compassionate reach far beyond Ireland.... [The Little Red Chairs] asks the kinds of questions only a novel could dare; like a great novel must, it leaves many of them unanswered."
—Kseniya Melnik, O Magazine
"Powerful.... With her inimitable storytelling genius, O'Brien explores the nature of evil."
—Jane Ciabattari, BBC
"This 18th novel from O'Brien delivers noble truths as well as atrocities.... [Her] mastery of symbolism and natural description remain unmatched in modern fiction."
—John G. Matthews, Library Journal (starred review)
"It's hard to believe that an 85-year-old can still write books big in size and scope with such vitality, grace and precision, but that's exactly what O'Brien does..... [She] has created characters so multifaceted and vivid that they don't become stereotypical as this masterwork evolves from love story into engaging political novel about real-world tyrants."—Joseph Peschel, Raleigh News and Observer
Coverage from NPR
Lightfall was love at first sight. Entering this world of Irpa is utterly enchanting, and it feels as if you're discovering for yourself the wonderous details of its magic with each turn of the page. The story follows two unexpected companions, Bea and Cad, both looking for their lost families but finding each other instead, as they get whisked away on a more and more miraculous journey--while meanwhile a darker and more ancient magic is awakening. Lightfall is awe-inspiring in its worldbuilding, compelling in its storytelling, and delightful in it's humor, with a sprinkling of commentary about anxiety and facing our fears. By the end of the book, I was thinking deeply of how much we can each learn from Cad and Bea!
(Graphic Novel, Ages 8+) - reviewed by Isabel