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The Light of Evening

Edna O'Brien

12 Reviews

Rated 0

Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

Edna O'Brien returns to the world of her debut novel, The Country Girls, in an inspired account of a dying mother and her daughter

The Light of Evening is a story of attachments, the attachment to land and especially the attachment between mother and daughter, who yearn for closeness but are also estranged.

From her hospital bed in Dublin, the elderly Dilly awaits the visit of her daughter, Eleanora, from London. The epochs of her life pass before her: emigration to America in the 1920s, a romantic liaison, and the destiny that brought her back to Ireland, to marriage and life at the formerly grand property called Rusheen. She also retraces Eleanora's precipitate marriage to a foreigner, which alienated mother and daughter even more, and Dilly's heart-rending letters sent over the years in a determination to reclaim her daughter. But Eleanora"s visit does not prove to be the glad reunion Dilly prayed for. And in her hasty departure, Eleanora leaves behind a secret journal of their stormy relationship - a revelation that brings the novel to a shocking close.

The Light of Evening is a novel of dreams and betrayals, but at its core is the realization that the bond between mother and child is unbreakable, stronger even than death. With its loving evocation of the Irish landscape, its cinematic portrait of New York in the 1920s as seen through the eyes of an immigrant, and its central mother-daughter relationship, it is certain to bring this daring writer her widest audience yet.

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Praise for The Light of Evening

  • O'Brien's eloquent, luminous prose is used to rich effect in this story of a mother and daughter, and the turbulent passions that they provoke in one another - Daily Mail

  • A courageous as well as an artful book. It is also a poignant one - Irish Times

  • Flashes of wry humour abound - O'Brien's anguish over the bonds between mothers and daughters is heartfelt - TLS

  • Ireland's greatest female writer - moving, dark and engrossing - Tatler

  • O'Brien's writing is as liltingly lyrical as ever. It is easy to get lost in the sheer lushness of her descriptions of life as a young Irish immigrant in America. - THE SCOTSMAN - Diane Maclean

  • flashes of wry humour abound..... O'Brien's anguish over the bonds between mothers and daughters is heartfelt, but the power of her book comes from the comparison between the existence of the woman who returned to the limitations of her early years and the life of one who escaped. Neither found happiness, which is why the tale is moving. - TLS - Sarah Curtis

  • O'Brien's eloquent, luminous prose is used to rich effect in this story of a mother and daughter, and the turbulent passions that they provoke in one another. - DAILY MAIL - Eithne Farry

  • it became apparent what was actually remarkable about her writing, what had been remarkable all along: it was not sex, at all: but honesty. - THE GUARDIAN - Anne Enright

  • a courageous as well as an artful book. It is also a poignant one. - IRISH TIMES - Joseph O'Connor

  • a stunning writer whose career has yet to be properly appreciated. - THE SUNDAY HERALD - Lesley McDowell

  • Written in elegant lyrical sentences that are, at times, nearer to poetry than prose, this is, in the evening

  • Devotees of O'Brien's novels will welcome her return to something like her old sensuous, sensitive poetic form. - THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - David Robson

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Edna O'Brien

Edna O'Brien is the author of 19 books. She was the winner of the 1993 Writers Guild Prize for Fiction. Her biography of James Joyce was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in June 1999. Her recent fiction has been about Irish topics - religion, politics, property. In 2001 her documentary novel, In the Forest - about a brutal murder on the west coast - caused a furore in her native Ireland. It was the subject of a BBC Omnibus film.