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Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor

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Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 27 May 2010.

Joseph O’Connor, best known for his award winning (and Richard and Judy selected) Star of the Sea, has written, in Ghost Light an exhilarating, passionate and uplifting tale of love and loss. Based loosely on real events and set in an Edwardian Dublin and a teeming and seedy Manhattan in the 1920’s, we follow the love affair of the genius Irish playwright J M Synge and rising starlet Molly Allgood, just 19 to his 31.

If you like Joseph O'Connor you might also like to read books by David Guterson, Barry Unsworth and Brian Moore.


Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor

It's Dublin 1907, a city of whispered rumours. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Rebellious and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a girl of the inner city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. She has dozens of admirers but in the backstage of her life there is a secret. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of 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, often tender. Many years later, an old woman makes her way across London on the morning after a hurricane. Christmas is coming. As she wanders past bombsites and through the city's forlorn beauty, a snowdrift of memories and lost desires seems to swirl. She has twice been married: once widowed, once divorced, but an unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat as her dazzling career has faded. A story of love's commitment, of partings and reconciliations, of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms, Ghost Light is a profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting novel.

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About the Author

Joseph O'Connor

Joseph O'Connor was born in Dublin. His novels include: Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls and Ghost Light. Star of the Sea became an international bestseller, winning the Irish Post Award for Fiction, an American Library Association Award, 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.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd June 2010


Joseph O'Connor

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