The sea is slowly eating into the land, and the hill with
the old watchtower has completely disappeared. The nearest house has crumbled
and fallen into the sea. It is Ireland in the late twentieth century.
Eamon Redmond is a judge in the Irish High Court. Obsessed
all his life by the letter and spirit of the law, he is just beginning to
discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With
effortless fluency, Colm Tóibín reconstructs the history of Eamon’s relationships—with
his father, his first “girl,” his wife, and the children who barely know him.
He gives us a family as minutely realized as any of John McGahern’s, and he
writes about Eamon’s affection for the landscape of his childhood on the east
coast of Ireland with such skill that the land itself becomes a character. The
result is a novel that ensnares us with its emotional intensity and dazzles
with its crystalline prose.
In The Heather Blazing, Colm Tóibín displays once again the gifts
that illuminated The South, a book described by Don
DeLillo as “a grand achievement” and by John Banville as “a daring imaginative
feat…A splendid first novel.”
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