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Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Set in Northern Ireland in the hot summer of 1969 this is ostensibly the story of Katherine, wife to George, mother of four. But when a day at the beach almost ends in disaster it unlocks a series of memories back to twenty years earlier when Katherine had to choose between dependable George and thrilling Tom, her memories and thoughts of what might have been in sharp relief to heightening violence threatening their comfortable lives. Sparse and beautiful prose, this is a first novel that reads like the work of an experienced and assured writer who pulls you inexorably into her story and character’s lives.

If you like Michele Forbes you might also like to read books by Eimear McBride, Donal Ryan and Carys Bray.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. In 1949 in Belfast, Katherine, newly engaged to safe, reliable, boring George, finds herself falling head over heels in love with Tom, exciting, reckless, unpredictable. Set in two contrasting years in Katherine’s life, separated by two decades – we move between the two: 1949, where Katherine is young, carefree and full of dreams, and 1969 where she is married to George, with four young children. Katherine’s memories of her past love remain undimmed despite two decades and a terrible tragedy having passed. A wonderful thought-provoking debut novel.
~ The Good Book Guide


Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes

Katherine must choose between George Bedford - solid, reliable, devoted George - and Tom McKinley, who makes her feel alive. The reverberations of that summer - of the passions that were spilled, the lies that were told and the bargains that were made - still clamour to be heard in 1969. Northern Ireland has become a tinderbox but tragedy also lurks closer to home. As Katherine and George struggle to save their marriage and silence the ghosts of the past, their family and city stand on the brink of collapse...


A serious-minded novel (novella really) which treats a familiar and quintessential human predicament with poetry, sensitivity and no little skill, not least in including a magical and unexpected coda over which hovers the eponymous Ghost Moth -- Andrew Green * CLASSICAL MUSIC * Forbes
writing is exquisite. Everything you read is suffused through with meaning. From the opening scene of Katherine staring the seal in the face to the very end with Elsa, there is a hidden depth to everything. It

's difficult to believe this is a debut novel - Forbes seems like she's an old pro at the form. For those who want to see how a novel should be done, Ghost Moth is a worthy read. It's as good inside as the cover makes it look. -- Sarah Shaffi * * Ghost Moth is very good. It's beautifully written... Forbes has a lightness of touch. Her dialogue is superb. -- Thomas Quinn * THE BIG ISSUE * An evocative sense of time and place, flawed characters and some hauntingly lyrical prose - this book delivers at every level... for a debut novel, it's outstanding * NEWBOOKS MAGAZINE * The author expertly maps the routines of family life an domesticity in ways both romantic and familiar. The scenes in which Katerine enjoys the company of her four young children during the summer holidays aredelightful... It is to the author's credit that this book, so carefully contextualized as it is, never feels like a glib denunciation of The Troubles * TLS * The intensely lyrical Ghost in part a meditation on differing forms of love...The 'ghost moth'
of the title flutters through the novel, alighting on various pages. As Katherine explains to her daughter

, 'Some people believed that ghost moths were the souls of the dead waiting to be caught.
In this affecting portrait of lost love and a lost city, Forbes catches those souls beautifully

* THE SPECTATOR * A very promising debut novel with flashes of brilliance and a poetic heart...a deeply moving examination of the minutiae of everyday life * * A subtle, passionate story of private grief set against public crisis * Forbes Magazine * It isn't often that a book makes me cry; makes me experience a deep anguish that the characters have spent their lives living with a painful regret that taints everything they do, blotting out the joy they should be experiencing in the present moment; leaves a tiny fragment of itself inside me to ponder over. Michele Forbes's debut novel, Ghost Moth, is such a book... Ghost Moth is beautifully written with descriptive, engaging prose rich with symbolism and metaphor that places the reader in the moment with exactness and great skill -- Julie Fisher * * Ghost Moth, Michele Forbes
exquisitely written debut, handles love, loss and silence with a delicate, nuanced touch

... From its striking opening sequence to its heartrending closing passage, Forbes
novel is beautifully expressed, so accomplished that it

's hard to believe that it's her first -- Susan Osborne * * Forbes'
writing possesses a stealthy power, and her patient layering of the story results in a surprising emotional impact by the time the final page is turned

. * THE LIST * Quiet tragedy in the ordinary lives of real human beings... Michele Forbes
first novel has been heaped with praise and rightly so

... as the book proceeds, it darkens, vividly evoking the divisions and bitterness that erupt with the onset of the Troubles. * IRISH INDEPENDENT * A beautifully written debut. Confident and lyrical. Michele Forbes is a name to watch * IRISH EXAMINER * Ghost Moth takes place during the Troubles, but it is far from just another book about them. Lyrical and beautifully written, it uses the outbreak of the Protestant/Catholic struggles and IRA bombings in the Sixties as a backdrop, but it is more of a character study and riveting family drama - concerned with the secrets, lies and hidden torments between those one is closest to, and the heartbreak of lost love. * THE BOOKSELLER * Forbes, who has already won major awards for her short stories, knows how to write - her prose is unfailingly elegant - her images are often arresting... the book confirms its author as an exceptional talent -- John Boland * BELFAST TELEGRAPH * Eloquently written and full of lyrical descriptions, Ghost Moth shines a light on everyday lives and offers the reader some unforgettable characters * CHOICE * Before this amazingly assured and beautifully executed first novel, Belfast-born Forbes worked as an actor, and this shows how seamlessly a performer can morph into a creator... Forbes is intelligent, humorous and occasionally heartbreaking; a very safe bet for the next round of literary prizes * SAGA * I was thoroughly caught up in this beautifully written debut novel. Set in Northern Ireland, in 1949 Katherine must choose between George Bedford and Tom McKinley. What happened that summer will haunt Katherine and George 20 years later, when they try to save their marriage. -- Fanny Blake * WOMAN & HOME * This moving story is beautifully written, with powerful imagery and prose that becomes quite mesmerising at times. An astonishingly accomplished debut by actress-turned-author Forbes, this haunting novel will linger in your mind -- Deidre O'Brien * SUNDAY MIRROR * Michele Forbes
startlingly assured debut has already won praise from those giants of Irish literature John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, and rightly so

... Lyrical and at times almost unbearably tender (the final scenes between Katherine and George will break your heart), Forbes delicately captures the echoes of history that pierce the present -- Jane Clinton * SUNDAY EXPRESS * A delicate and unusual endeavour to write about ordinary people in a way that is so realistic that it almost reads like memoir. The passages evoking Katherine's children are outstanding. The meditations on maternal and marital love verge on the profound. And the ending will bring a lump to your throat. -- Claire Kilroy * THE GUARDIAN * An impressively sure-footed debut, lyrical and contemplative in equal measure * THE MAIL ON SUNDAY * This beautifully written first novel is about the kind of love that can never be blotted out... a tender, heartbreaking story about choices made and secrets kept too long -- Kate Saunders * THE TIMES * A bountiful river of lovely images, fresh and perfect, a triumphant story both familiar and strange. A stellardebut -- Sebastian Barry An impressive debut by a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings. We shall be hearing a great deal more from Michele Forbes -- John Banville Deeply - sometimes erotically - charged. The writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it...Katherine Bedford - so ordinary and so passionate - is a heroine to treasure -- Anne Enright Clever, unpredictable, beautifully written and crafted - Ghost Moth stayed with me for a long time after I'd finished reading the final, sad, wonderful page -- Roddy Doyle

About the Author

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michele Forbes is an award-winning theatre, television and film actress. She studied literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has worked as a literary reviewer for the IRISH TIMES. Her short stories have received both the BRYAN MACMAHON and the MICHAEL MCLAVERTY AWARDs. She lives near Dalkey, Dublin with her husband and two children. GHOST MOTH is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

12th August 2014


Michele Forbes

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Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


272 pages


Family Drama
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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