Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor
A Novel

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Synopsis

1907 Edwardian Dublin, a city of whispers and rumors. At the Abbey Theatre W. B. Yeats is working with the talented John Synge, his resident playwright. It is here that Synge, the author of The Playboy of the Western World and The Tinker’s Wedding, will meet an actress still in her teens named Molly Allgood. Rebellious, irreverent, beautiful, flirtatious, Molly is a girl of the inner-city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. Witty and watchful, she has dozens of admirers, but it is the damaged older playwright who is her secret passion despite the barriers of age, class, education, and religion.

Synge is a troubled, reticent genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by conventions and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of immense loneliness and severity, he has long been ill, but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, and often tender.

1950s postwar London, an old woman walks across the city in the wake of a hurricane. As she wanders past bomb sites and through the forlorn beauty of wrecked terraces and wintry parks, her mind drifts in and out of the present as she remembers her life’s great love, her once dazzling career, and her travels in America. Vivid and beautifully written, Molly’s swirling, fractured narrative moves from Dublin to London via New York with luminous language and raw feeling. Ghost Light is a story of great sadness and joy—a tour de force from the widely acclaimed and bestselling author of Star of the Sea.


 

About Joseph O'Connor

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Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include six previous novels: Cowboys and Indians (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, and Redemption Falls. Star of the Sea became an international bestseller, winning the Irish Post Award for Literature, and France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, and the Prix Madeleine Zepter for European Novel of the Year. His work has been published in thirty-five languages. http://josephoconnorauthor.com/
 
Published February 1, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 257 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ghost Light

The New York Times

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Joseph O’Connor’s novel vividly reimagines the love affair between a young actress and the Irish playwright John Millington Synge.

Feb 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

New York Journal of Books

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“There are eras of every life that have a carapace about them, a scar grown out of the woundedness .

Feb 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

New York Journal of Books

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“There are eras of every life that have a carapace about them, a scar grown out of the woundedness .

Feb 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Los Angeles Times

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The 'Star of the Sea' author ends his trilogy of 'forgotten' Irish history with a fictional account of Maire O'Neill and John Millington Synge.

Mar 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

The Telegraph

The elderly, poverty-stricken Molly – .

Jun 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

The Telegraph

Joseph O’Connor details everything from old Moll’s point of .

Jul 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

When Synge died at age 38, Molly, in an ostensibly robust life, went on to perform his plays in America, London and Ireland, marry twice (neither union meriting a backward glance), dally with other men, and bear children.

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

The Sydney Morning Herald

It’s an inventive word among many used by Joseph O’Connor in his new novel, Ghost Light, and also a useful word to describe the unique yet at the same time beholden nature of O’Connor’s book.Of course you won’t find ‘‘itselfness’’ in the OED, just as you wouldn’t find the great majority of remnan...

Sep 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Scotsman.com

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Dec 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Ghost Light is loosely based on the lives of Irish actress Maire O'Neill (Molly Allgood) and her lover, playwright John Millington Synge.

Feb 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Bookin With Sunny.

But when back in her room, hungry and sick, “You stoke the fire and kneel before it …What a long, strange day … But a day full of blessings …” O’Connor’s exquisite ren­dering of her life and her enduring love for John Synge will leave Molly’s own ghost light burning brightly in the reader’s mind.

Feb 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Metro

Book review: Ghost Light by Joseph O’ Connor (Harvill Secker, £16.99).

Jun 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Ghost Light: A Novel

Reader Rating for Ghost Light
72%

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