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The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

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A timeless classic dealing with the complexity and hardships of relationships, addiction and faith.Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her we A timeless classic dealing with the complexity and hardships of relationships, addiction and faith.Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her weekly visits.Judith soon meets wealthy James Madden and fantasises about marrying this lively, debonair man. But Madden sees her in an entirely different light, as a potential investor in a business proposal. On realising that her feelings are not reciprocated, she turns to an old addiction – alcohol. Having confessed her problems to an indifferent priest, she soon loses her faith and binges further. She wonders what place there is for her in a world that so values family ties and faith, both of which she is without.


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A timeless classic dealing with the complexity and hardships of relationships, addiction and faith.Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her we A timeless classic dealing with the complexity and hardships of relationships, addiction and faith.Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her weekly visits.Judith soon meets wealthy James Madden and fantasises about marrying this lively, debonair man. But Madden sees her in an entirely different light, as a potential investor in a business proposal. On realising that her feelings are not reciprocated, she turns to an old addiction – alcohol. Having confessed her problems to an indifferent priest, she soon loses her faith and binges further. She wonders what place there is for her in a world that so values family ties and faith, both of which she is without.

30 review for The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dem

    Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her weekly visits. After finishing the wonderful Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which also deals with similar themes albeit on a much more humorous level I wanted to revisit Judith Herne as I had enjoyed it so much firs Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O'Neill family, who secretly dread her weekly visits. After finishing the wonderful Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine which also deals with similar themes albeit on a much more humorous level I wanted to revisit Judith Herne as I had enjoyed it so much first time around. I really enjoyed this extraordinary novel and found it a thought provoking insight into loneliness and what it means to be ALONE. This Novel was one of the recommendations from Good Reads and I have to be honest I had never heard of Brian Moore until I purchased this book. First published in 1955 this novel is a real classic and I can see why Mr Moore was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and circumstance. Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world. I was blown away by the writing in this novel as it is so rich in imagery and detail and the pacing is perfect. This is quite a small novel but Mr Moore makes every word count and not only do you get a feel for the characters you really are a fly on the wall of the Bed Sit with Judith Hearne. I found myself immersed in the characters and could not put this book down. I believe this book has been made into a film starring Maggie Smith(Downton Abbey)and Bob Hoskins and I really would love to see that. I found this read a true 5 star experience.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    I think you're as lonely as a Sunday morning That never had a Saturday night. * That's Judy Hearne, all right, though she honestly likes Sundays. It's the one day each week when she has plenty to do. First, there's church, followed by her visit to the O'Neill household for tea. She has such fun thinking of the stories she will tell and the gossip she will share. It began with the long tram ride to their house which gave you plenty of time to rehearse the things you would tell them, interesting I think you're as lonely as a Sunday morning That never had a Saturday night. * That's Judy Hearne, all right, though she honestly likes Sundays. It's the one day each week when she has plenty to do. First, there's church, followed by her visit to the O'Neill household for tea. She has such fun thinking of the stories she will tell and the gossip she will share. It began with the long tram ride to their house which gave you plenty of time to rehearse the things you would tell them, interesting things that would make them smile and be glad you had come. Because when you were a single girl, you had to find interesting things to talk about. Other women always had their children and shopping and running a house to chat about. Oh, but poor Judy . . . if she only knew how the O'Neills dread her arrival. They make fun of her, and argue over who will have to stay in the room and listen to her tell her same old stories, yet again. They fall asleep as she prattles about her life. Loneliness makes us vulnerable, easy prey for telemarketers, bullies and con men. But, it also makes us hopeful. Today could be the day something special will happen. If not today, then maybe tomorrow. Judy lives in this realm of possibility. She is full of hope, full of maybe. Any day now, she could meet a man, and any man could be the man. Judy Hearne, she said, you've got to stop right this minute. Imagine romancing about every man that comes along. But, she doesn't stop. Now, she has a crush on her new landlady's brother, an Irishman recently returned from decades spent in America. He sees Judy as an open purse while he entertains impure thoughts about the dewy young maid. Poor Judy . . . headed for disappointment once more. But, she does have one secret love, a passion, if you will, who returns her affections and makes her feel good about herself; a love she can rely on in times of trouble. The yellow liquid rolled slowly in the glass, opulent, oily, the key to contentment. She swallowed it, feeling it warm the pit of her stomach, slowly spreading through her body, steadying her hands, filling her with its power. Warmed, relaxed, her own and only mistress, she reached for and poured a tumbler full of drink. Poor Judy, with her habit of calling out "It's only me" which only emphasizes her own insignificance. She is left with her hopes dashed, her maybes in tatters, and precious little to believe in anymore. This was a reread for me and this time was even better than my first encounter in 1988. A beautifully written, sad, yet lovely novel featuring unforgettable characters, not just Judy, but also Jim Madden, her heartthrob, and Bernie, the landlady's spoiled son. *Don't Let It Go to Waste ~ Greg Trooper

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    Oh sweet lord if there is a more excruciatingly, exquisitely, exactingly, deliriously wretched little book out there, I don't think I could even handle it. What an absolute motherfucking masterpiece. Oh sweet lord if there is a more excruciatingly, exquisitely, exactingly, deliriously wretched little book out there, I don't think I could even handle it. What an absolute motherfucking masterpiece.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I realised there’s a whole sub-genre of novels about very isolated miserable women spiraling down, down, ever downwards and the ones I’ve read (see appendix A) are mostly good and even great and this is the latest. So here we have a psychological horror story about the total disintegration of this lonely plain poor Irish woman who is in her 40s and entirely adrift, with no family and pretty much no friends (she thinks she has at least one family of friends but they cringe when she hoves into view I realised there’s a whole sub-genre of novels about very isolated miserable women spiraling down, down, ever downwards and the ones I’ve read (see appendix A) are mostly good and even great and this is the latest. So here we have a psychological horror story about the total disintegration of this lonely plain poor Irish woman who is in her 40s and entirely adrift, with no family and pretty much no friends (she thinks she has at least one family of friends but they cringe when she hoves into view). Mostly Judith Hearne is radiating fear and desperation in all directions. She peregrinates from dingy boarding house to dingier boarding house, she has a tiny income from the mad dead aunt to whom she had dedicated her marriageable years and she gives piano lessons to nasty anklebiting children when she can to generate more cash but really she has no marketable skills and zero prospects. I can tell I’m really selling this as a four-star read. I should add that there is plenty of excruciating social comedy along the way and some great humdinging arguments. Also religion gets a real pasting too. Anyway I loved this. What I didn't like was that Abebooks sent me a copy which was the MOVIE TIE-IN edition with Bob Hoskins' face on it. I really hate it when that happens. No offence to Bob Hoskins intended. *** APPENDIX A : OTHER NOVELS ABOUT VERY ISOLATED MISERABLE WOMEN SPIRALING DOWN, DOWN, EVER DOWNWARDS Skylark : Deszo Kosztolayni The Piano Teacher : Elfriede Jelinek* Jean Rhys’ four great novels The Driver’s Seat : Muriel Spark* The Life and Death of Harriet Frean : May Sinclair Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont : Elizabeth Taylor A Day Off : Storm Jameson A Five Year Sentence : Bernice Rubens The Bell Jar : Sylvia Plath The Yellow Wallpaper : Charlotte Gilman *These two I personally hated but I must confess that strangely, my opinion is not universally shared. Note : It strikes me that there must be plenty of novels about very isolated miserable MEN spiraling down, down, ever downwards but I can only think of a couple Hunger : Knut Hamsun Notes from Underground : Dostoyevsky Suggestions for additions to these two jolly lists will be gratefully accepted

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

    I tried to think of a more depressing novel than Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and I came up with exactly nada. Even Holocaust literature usually aspires to some mitigating, redemptive element to remind the reader that—even though the world is a sick, twisted, hateful, miserable, incomprehensibly fucked-up place—there are still nooks and crannies of goodness to be found here and there. (Or what passes for goodness on the sliding scale of values, at any rate.) Mitigation is s I tried to think of a more depressing novel than Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and I came up with exactly nada. Even Holocaust literature usually aspires to some mitigating, redemptive element to remind the reader that—even though the world is a sick, twisted, hateful, miserable, incomprehensibly fucked-up place—there are still nooks and crannies of goodness to be found here and there. (Or what passes for goodness on the sliding scale of values, at any rate.) Mitigation is so much harder to come by, however, in the merciless tale of Judith Hearne, a friendless, unattractive, alcoholic spinster who whiles away her empty days aided only by a few tenuous delusions and an increasingly wavering faith in God. One particularly brutal aspect of the novel is its shifting perspective; usually it is through Hearne's eyes that we take in this artfully bleak Belfast, but occasionally we sidle over to other characters' viewpoints—minor characters as well as major ones—through which we discover (much to our horror) that Hearne's already gloomy opinion of her world doesn't quite go far enough. These people pity and mock her beyond even her worst suspicions. I read this book approximately twenty years ago in my college Irish Lit class, and it was the only thing I remember reading in that godawful class that I actually loved. (Fuck off, W.B. Yeats!) Later, when I was living with my partner-in-crime, I read the book out loud to her in installments nightly because we had no television. Recently, I saw that NYRB republished this—and I wanted to see if my youthful opinion was trustworthy. And well... let's just say that once in a while I stumbled into correct opinions when I was young and idiotic; that The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a great novel is certainly one of them. (There is also a serviceable film version of the book—as a result of which I am unable to picture Judith Hearne as looking like anyone but Maggie Smith.) But it's a shame about the cover design on this. The garish wallpaper is completely appropriate for the likes of Judith Hearne; I just don't like the gimmicky woman with the wallpaper skin. Although the woman is not a baby, there's something gallingly Anne Geddes-ish about the technique. But I guess you can't have everything. In Judith's case, you can't even have anything.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    There is someone in my life who partly reminds me of Judith Hearne. Along with Judith, this person has the complete inability to see things from other’s point of view, or to see reality in the harsh light of day. As a result, her entire outlook and perceptions of people are severely skewed. Judith’s clinginess and desperation is awkward to read about if you know someone like that. She’s a grasping for attention sort of person (talk to me, like me, be my friend, please!) What could he be thinking There is someone in my life who partly reminds me of Judith Hearne. Along with Judith, this person has the complete inability to see things from other’s point of view, or to see reality in the harsh light of day. As a result, her entire outlook and perceptions of people are severely skewed. Judith’s clinginess and desperation is awkward to read about if you know someone like that. She’s a grasping for attention sort of person (talk to me, like me, be my friend, please!) What could he be thinking of? He seemed to be trying to remember something, perhaps an engagement, perhaps an excuse to leave her. For eventually, they all made some excuse. Judith’s “friends” mock her behind her back and treat her visits as a chore, and at first we think Judith is clueless, and then we start to think what if she knows? What if some of these people know they’re disliked and tolerated and thought of as a bore and a burden? We don’t like Judith much. She’s a silly, irritating and fitful woman, but somewhere in the pitying we start to feel bad for her because for some people there’s never a sporting chance at happiness. What was she supposed to do? 1950s Belfast, a “plain” unmarried woman who’s over 40. Such was her lot. She watched the glass, a plain woman, changing all to the delightful illusion of beauty. There was still time: for her ugliness was destined to bloom late, hidden first by the unformed gawkiness of youth, budding to plainness in young womanhood and now flowering to slow maturity in her early forties, it still awaited the subtle garishness which only decay could bring to fruition: a garishness which, when arrived at, would preclude all efforts at the mirror game. When the landlady’s brother moves in and shows an interest in Judith she dares to think that her prayers have been answered. Again, Judith never stood a chance because (view spoiler)[he’s only interested in gold-digging and raping the maid. (hide spoiler)] Judith starts spiraling down. I’ve never had religion in my life, so it speaks to Moore’s skill as a writer that I was able to feel the weight of Judith’s panic and disillusion when her faith is called into question. Usually prolonged scenes of religious contemplation can be trying on me, but here it was so miserable and frantic and so beautifully written that I was enthralled. Is it just bread? This was draining, wretched, bitter and wonderful to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

    This bleak, raw powerful story of the mental disintegration of a lonely Belfast spinster was a very accomplished debut novel that must have seemed quite modern in 1955. At the start of the book we see Judith Hearne moving into new lodgings in the house of Mrs Henry Rice. The first half of the book is quite comic in tone, with darker undercurrents that increase as the story proceeds. Judith has sacrificed her best years to caring for a tyrannical aunt, and now has occasional work as a piano teach This bleak, raw powerful story of the mental disintegration of a lonely Belfast spinster was a very accomplished debut novel that must have seemed quite modern in 1955. At the start of the book we see Judith Hearne moving into new lodgings in the house of Mrs Henry Rice. The first half of the book is quite comic in tone, with darker undercurrents that increase as the story proceeds. Judith has sacrificed her best years to caring for a tyrannical aunt, and now has occasional work as a piano teacher while dreaming of better things and relying on her Catholic faith. One of her fellow tenants is the landlady's brother James Madden, who has recently returned from 30 years in America. Both James and Judith see each other as possible means of escape from their routines and they embark on a tentative courtship. But when their illusions are shattered a calamitous chain of events ensues (view spoiler)[as Judith seeks solace in alcohol, loses her faith and self-respect and burns her bridges (hide spoiler)] . The second half is so relentlessly sad and bleak that I found it almost painful to read, but the book remains haunting and probably memorable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    One of the saddest stories I've ever read regarding a woman's life ... so much the victim to her background and times. Judith's wanting to be loved in spite of everything and yet failing is terribly upsetting... there was a moment I stop reading as I felt so much pity for her ... No passion that can be shared for Judith ... One of the saddest stories I've ever read regarding a woman's life ... so much the victim to her background and times. Judith's wanting to be loved in spite of everything and yet failing is terribly upsetting... there was a moment I stop reading as I felt so much pity for her ... No passion that can be shared for Judith ...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    Such a sad story of a tortured soul. A beautifully executed novel that does pack a wallop. I've had this novel in my to be read pile for years and have had a lot of recommendations for it but the timing just wasn't right for the read. It's an emotionally draining read, of a complex woman, her "battle" with alcohol, her guilt, and her faith. I can't remember having read a novel where a male author has been able to portray a woman so finely, delicately as the author was able to do in this novel. Such a sad story of a tortured soul. A beautifully executed novel that does pack a wallop. I've had this novel in my to be read pile for years and have had a lot of recommendations for it but the timing just wasn't right for the read. It's an emotionally draining read, of a complex woman, her "battle" with alcohol, her guilt, and her faith. I can't remember having read a novel where a male author has been able to portray a woman so finely, delicately as the author was able to do in this novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    As I drove back from visiting my elderly father over the holidays, one of the songs that played at some point during the 1,000-km trip was “Lonesome Loser”, by Little River Band. I couldn’t help thinking about this novel I was only halfway done reading: indeed, Judith Hearne is a lonesome loser. A lifelong outsider, a confirmed spinster, and while it came as a bit of a surprise at some point, a dipsomaniac. Circumstances have worked against Miss Hearne for a long time already when we meet her, ev As I drove back from visiting my elderly father over the holidays, one of the songs that played at some point during the 1,000-km trip was “Lonesome Loser”, by Little River Band. I couldn’t help thinking about this novel I was only halfway done reading: indeed, Judith Hearne is a lonesome loser. A lifelong outsider, a confirmed spinster, and while it came as a bit of a surprise at some point, a dipsomaniac. Circumstances have worked against Miss Hearne for a long time already when we meet her, even though she certainly means well and at that point is still trying to come out on top; they finally take their toll over the course of the novel. This is the story of the poor woman's downfall. It all sounds infinitely sad – and it is – yet there’s something of a comedy of errors to this tale, which keeps it lively and entertaining at the same time. Also, as English is my second language, I learned a new, specifically Irish word reading this book: stocious. I was in Ireland a few times but I don't think I had ever heard it before. Feeling ignored by men and more generally let down by everyone, Judith Hearne also comes to feel at odds with religion, as even her god seems to neglect her and she finally takes offence. In Ireland at the time, this was a serious matter. I found it gave the novel some wonderful depth and provided extra value to Brian Moore’s observations on the human condition. It was of interest to me to learn that Moore left Ireland in the late 1940s to come work for the Montreal Gazette, a local daily newspaper still in existence to this day. His journey didn’t stop here and he went on to settle down in Malibu eventually. (Smart man. No more Canadian winters for you!) The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne leaves me curious about the rest of Moore’s production and I can see myself picking up another one of his novels one of these days. This was a fun discovery and a memorable character study.

  11. 4 out of 5

    ❀Julie

    In Vito veritas: "in wine, truth", suggesting a person under the influence of alcohol is more likely to speak their hidden thoughts and desires. The saying that comes to mind is, "if you don’t laugh you’ll cry”. This book was so densely bleak yet with enough comic undertones that I found it surprisingly humorous at times. Poor Judy is a pitiful character, who is so sorrowful for all the crosses she’s had to bear. She is a devout Catholic whose weakness will be tempted and faith will be tested. Th In Vito veritas: "in wine, truth", suggesting a person under the influence of alcohol is more likely to speak their hidden thoughts and desires. The saying that comes to mind is, "if you don’t laugh you’ll cry”. This book was so densely bleak yet with enough comic undertones that I found it surprisingly humorous at times. Poor Judy is a pitiful character, who is so sorrowful for all the crosses she’s had to bear. She is a devout Catholic whose weakness will be tempted and faith will be tested. This author is brilliant in his ability to get into the head of this lonely female character. The writing alone made this a 5 star read for me, with all the shifting points of view and vivid descriptions. I personally think this would make an excellent book club read but the themes were very dark and the characters unlikable. A little gem!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    I set aside a book about wind I was reading so I could read this one. But books don't like that and the wind never quits, not really, and so it wasn't long before I read this: they went out through the brightly lit lobby, past the waiting queues, out into the night wind which rushed like a thief along the streets. Of the they, one of them could be a thief. But there's nothing to steal but loneliness. The other of they is the eponymous Judith Hearne. And lonely she is. Eleanor Rigby had more frie I set aside a book about wind I was reading so I could read this one. But books don't like that and the wind never quits, not really, and so it wasn't long before I read this: they went out through the brightly lit lobby, past the waiting queues, out into the night wind which rushed like a thief along the streets. Of the they, one of them could be a thief. But there's nothing to steal but loneliness. The other of they is the eponymous Judith Hearne. And lonely she is. Eleanor Rigby had more friends. Something else about that sentence I quoted above. The wind is anthropomorphic. So are Judith's shoes, with eye buckles that wink or smile. Or the two pictures (the Sacred Heart and her departed aunt) she displays as she goes from room to room. They glower or smile at her, depending on her mood. And her mood is determined largely by the amount of liquor she has swallowed. ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- The first person narrative shifts, from Judith to a dozen or more characters, but those always looking at Judith. Her loneliness, her pain, is largely justified, we learn that way. One character, Bernard, is a youngish, obese, long blond-haired, coddled, wannabe poet. He's no more important, but kind of more interesting, than the others. But he said this: America sells refrigerators for culture. They come to Europe when they need ideas. Not saying he's right. But I like when authors put quotes like that in the mouth of an enigmatic character. ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- Quotes like that. We read in part for the lightbulbs: those choice words that make us understand, or merely think. The process doesn't have to resolve. This can happen now, reading a 1955 novel. Or one that quotes the 16th century. This, from The Prince: When an evil has sprung up within a state the more certain remedy by far is to temporise with it: for almost invariably he who attempts to crush it will rather increase its force and accelerate the harm apprehended from it. Show him honour, regardless of consequence. I don't know. But I do abhor the fractious nature of current things. ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- As I implied above, there is an awful lot about drinking in this book. That's not why I read it. And I didn't see myself in Judith Hearne. I have a different kind of loneliness. And I've never been drunk with a Scot. More's the pity. But someday, maybe. And when I do, I hope to get stocious drunk.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lori - on hiatus

    One of the finest novels I've read. Moore is brilliant. I majored in English Lit and took grad seminars and I am angry -- why have I never heard of Brian Moore before reading Howard Norman's "Next Life Might Be Kinder", which mentions him? This book belongs on lists of the top 100 novels of all time -- well, arguably. The point of view and spare writing impress me so. Judith Hearne is complex, infuriating, pathetic, deluded, grasping, drunk, annoying, sympathetic. Moore gives us every inch of Ju One of the finest novels I've read. Moore is brilliant. I majored in English Lit and took grad seminars and I am angry -- why have I never heard of Brian Moore before reading Howard Norman's "Next Life Might Be Kinder", which mentions him? This book belongs on lists of the top 100 novels of all time -- well, arguably. The point of view and spare writing impress me so. Judith Hearne is complex, infuriating, pathetic, deluded, grasping, drunk, annoying, sympathetic. Moore gives us every inch of Judith Hearne, every thought, frustration, aspiration; that is to say, there is flesh on her bones and when she topples over it knocks the reader for a loop. The supporting characters are brilliant. The shifting viewpoints work perfectly. I love it. (And saw the movie and it was, for me, a mere shadow of the book despite Maggie Smith's brilliant performance.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (aka EM)

    Happy St. Patrick's Day. <--insert irony emoticon here--> Holy moly, faith an' begorrah. This Brian Moore guy ... I think I love him (even) more than Graham Greene, which is the most obvious comparison. I devoured this, reading ravenously to 3 a.m. this morning. Judith! Poor Judith. Is there any one of us who doesn't feel for her? Feel *like* her? (view spoiler)[The loss of faith angle is icing on the top for this non-Catholic. (hide spoiler)] Seven things for now: 1) Feels like Slaves of Solitude, Happy St. Patrick's Day. <--insert irony emoticon here--> Holy moly, faith an' begorrah. This Brian Moore guy ... I think I love him (even) more than Graham Greene, which is the most obvious comparison. I devoured this, reading ravenously to 3 a.m. this morning. Judith! Poor Judith. Is there any one of us who doesn't feel for her? Feel *like* her? (view spoiler)[The loss of faith angle is icing on the top for this non-Catholic. (hide spoiler)] Seven things for now: 1) Feels like Slaves of Solitude, but with the added religious layer. 2) What an eviscerating portrait of social class and religious intolerance. The vacuum-packed, claustrophobic, eating-one's-own-young, soul-destroying religious and class prejudice and oppression of Belfast - Ireland - at that time - still - and elsewhere. Every small town in Upper n' Lower Canada, for example, where these roots to this day run so deep. It's not accidental that Moore was writing this as an ex-pat from Montreal. 3) The internal dialogue and shifting POVs are EX-QUI-SITE. 4) Bernie and his Ma - ewwww, ick, and whattup with THAT? Wow. 5) I WANT THIS TO BE A STAGE PRODUCTION! Has it ever been? I can see this on stage so easily (internal dialogue notwithstanding). C'mon goodreaders, if it hasn't been, let's write it! 6) The ending - (view spoiler)[does she or doesn't she regain her faith? (hide spoiler)] - reminded me of the similar ambiguity for Fr. Emilio in The Sparrow. 7) Almost as - nay, more! - wrist-slashingly sad as The House of Mirth. (view spoiler)[Very surprised that Judith didn't take that path out. Still not sure that Moore didn't leave the picture of aunt and The Sacred Heart - which I assume are behind glass? - within easy reach for a reason. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    All I can say is thank goodness that's over and wonder what I can read to mitigate the toxic absorption of reading it and being amidst a pack of inhumane characters and a main character set up for incarceration due to her having had her way in life taken from her after the prolonged and dutiful care of an unappreciative and domineering Aunt. From the opening pages I couldn't shake off the fact that this 40 year old woman is being created by a man, that the mind looking out from behind her eyes is All I can say is thank goodness that's over and wonder what I can read to mitigate the toxic absorption of reading it and being amidst a pack of inhumane characters and a main character set up for incarceration due to her having had her way in life taken from her after the prolonged and dutiful care of an unappreciative and domineering Aunt. From the opening pages I couldn't shake off the fact that this 40 year old woman is being created by a man, that the mind looking out from behind her eyes isn't a woman, but a man living in exile with grievances to bare and an unconscious bias, by virtue of being part of and conditioned by the dominant sex/race, in an era where if women hadn't been subdued by marriage, tamed by employment, or upholstered in the habit, they were indeed on a slippery slope towards disillusionment, realising that society did not value them outside certain roles, and by this age had indirectly cast them aside, or put them on a shelf, as the saying went and was continuously perpetuated. I could believe she might momentarily look upon the returning immigrant Jim Madden with interest, curious about his life elsewhere, but the gaze of them all upon her, as if that were an abominable thought, the weight of all that judgement - it is a world portrayed that lacks care or empathy, disapproves of adventure, lacks imagination and excitement and instead lures the lonely towards their oblivion thus destroying the few threads of potential that have kept this one woman going till now. I found the extreme indulgence in her whiskey bottles totally unrealistic. She was so straight-laced and God fearing, that one bad experience surely would have been sufficient, but the heavy hand of the author deeply imprinted on her back pushed her onward. He had a beef with the church and by God he was going to make this poor victim confront it. And then have her locked up anyway, as they did with any woman who acted with impropriety and who lacked a sponsor. I think Judith was unjustly portrayed, if she were to write a first person account of her story, we would see a more nuanced character, disillusioned yes, but a more perceptive perspective from within, than those who depict her from without, and a society ready to discard her. Judith Hearne never found her passion, it was conditioned the hell out of her, ensuring she'd never yearn for, seek or ever become aware of empowerment.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Swati

    Brian Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was rejected more than 10 times by publishers because it was just too depressing. I empathise. My heart felt heavy, and I could do with some whiskey myself by the time I finished this book. Judith Hearne “was thirty-six and looked older. She had very few friends.” She was single and also a slave to alcohol. She moves into a guesthouse after the death of her aunt, the only relative she had. In due course, she gets acquainted with her fellow lodger Brian Moore’s The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was rejected more than 10 times by publishers because it was just too depressing. I empathise. My heart felt heavy, and I could do with some whiskey myself by the time I finished this book. Judith Hearne “was thirty-six and looked older. She had very few friends.” She was single and also a slave to alcohol. She moves into a guesthouse after the death of her aunt, the only relative she had. In due course, she gets acquainted with her fellow lodgers, gets a job as a piano teacher, and even begins something akin to a courtship with the landlady’s brother James Madden. Seems to be settling in well, doesn't she? That’s how Judith appears to everyone. Internally, unseen and unknown to anyone, she had started to come undone a long time ago. I found the book to be a raw exploration of depression, loneliness, and society. Judith is so attuned to being rejected that every time she meets a new man, she braces herself for it. “He would listen politely to whatever inanity she would manage to get out and then he would see the hysteria in her eyes, the hateful hot flush in her cheeks. And he would go as all men had gone before him.” You see self-loathing, despair, and a singular, aching loneliness in this woman, which makes it tough to read. She tries to share the raging thoughts in her mind with her friend, with a pastor, and with anyone who would just listen. But it seems like all doors are shut to Judith. The problem of mental health continues to persist even today making this novel all the more relevant. When someone behaves differently and does not ‘fit in’ we don’t take a moment to ask ‘why.’ We get angry or disappointed or contemptuous and finally we ignore the person. Brian Moore shows the repercussions of our selfishness as a society, the damage it can cause to an already damaged individual. Judith’s dysphoria weighs heavily on your soul. It’s a poignant reminder and a pointed finger at our collective consciousness too as we fail many times to take care of the Judiths in our midst. This is a bleak book but also something we can learn from. Do read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    The shoe eyes staring at Judith Hearne throughout the novel, accusing, laughing along, leering, laughing at. Finally indifferent, like all, nearly all she meets, particularly men. A masterful piece of writing, cleverly and so economically done. Some parts are from different povs which gets you through the plot in an efficient way, and gives sidelights and other views on the protagonist. The last few chapters when the character goes from address to address in her hired car is almost insanely econ The shoe eyes staring at Judith Hearne throughout the novel, accusing, laughing along, leering, laughing at. Finally indifferent, like all, nearly all she meets, particularly men. A masterful piece of writing, cleverly and so economically done. Some parts are from different povs which gets you through the plot in an efficient way, and gives sidelights and other views on the protagonist. The last few chapters when the character goes from address to address in her hired car is almost insanely economical, and deeply affecting. A lovely experience, actually, the writing never letting you down, and a moving one. Thanks Ryan, and others for putting me on to this.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Pool

    My initial reaction to The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was to be thankful that the attitudes prevalent in the 1950’s, and particularly the objectification of women, seem so anachronistic in 2018. This book was published in 1955. Judith herself expresses fears that are standard fare for novels written in the c.18th century, the Austen era. Women were at risk of becoming lonely, reclusive, impoverished; unfulfilled spinsters and childless aunts.... unless they could pursuade a man, preferable My initial reaction to The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was to be thankful that the attitudes prevalent in the 1950’s, and particularly the objectification of women, seem so anachronistic in 2018. This book was published in 1955. Judith herself expresses fears that are standard fare for novels written in the c.18th century, the Austen era. Women were at risk of becoming lonely, reclusive, impoverished; unfulfilled spinsters and childless aunts.... unless they could pursuade a man, preferable an eligible, handsome man, to take them on. The book is set in Belfast, and I can’t claim any knowledge as to whether the religious, Catholic, anxieties expressed in the person of Judith, are still a part of the Irish community? The Church here is an institution portrayed in a bullying, hectoring fashion. The leading religious authority figure, Father Quigley, eventually provides some genuine ministry, but not before he is cast as a man threatening hell and brimstone, with not very much pastoral love and care. Judith is a tragic figure, put upon by selfish, needy relatives, and (as the reader is reminded on numerous occasions) because of her plain looks she is “a temptation to no man”(99). The depiction of men is universally unflattering. Men are for the most part compulsive liars, looking no further than to take advantage of a free drink, and bestial in their (dis)regard for the female sex. My second appraisal of The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was to consider how much has changed in the sixty three years since it’s publication. The #metoo movement has had some success in exposing those male sexual wrong doings which are prevalent as a consequence of the veil of secrecy, the cover ups, that James Madden relies on in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. How different is the ‘dance’ between men and women in 2018. Do suitors today(men and women) behave any differently in their natural selection? (Female) beauty, money, inheritance, social background; similar criteria still apply today, I guess? Overall The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a very worthwhile read. Brian Moore is a writer with a frequently cruel eye for what lurks beneath the surface in our relations with one another.

  19. 4 out of 5

    qtasha

    If we don't have our delusions how can we live? This is well written heartbreaking masterpiece of a book. If we don't have our delusions how can we live? This is well written heartbreaking masterpiece of a book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liina Bachmann

    I would dare to say “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” is a perfect novel. Perfect in length, character development, plot, the authenticity of setting, dialogue - everything. It is about a spinster “Judith Hearne who is “plain” and “on the wrong side on the 40’s”. She has been brought up to marry well, to have a man take care of her. This doesn’t go according to plan. She is lonely. So lonely it hurts to read about it. With a strict Catholic upbringing, she still has faith though. That the Mr I would dare to say “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” is a perfect novel. Perfect in length, character development, plot, the authenticity of setting, dialogue - everything. It is about a spinster “Judith Hearne who is “plain” and “on the wrong side on the 40’s”. She has been brought up to marry well, to have a man take care of her. This doesn’t go according to plan. She is lonely. So lonely it hurts to read about it. With a strict Catholic upbringing, she still has faith though. That the Mr Right will come. That she will be taken care of. Her dreams are detached from reality and are heavily influenced by cheap romantic cliches. In the course of the book, this faith and her faith, in general, starts to crumble. Which leads to a whirlwind of events and an inevitable climax. There is an ensemble of supporting characters as well, each crafted with the same precision and none of them good in their hearts towards the poor spinster. Judith Hearne is one of the most memorable female characters I have encountered in novels. The significance lies in her multifaceted nature. Being a Catholic but at the same time, a sinner and a snob on top of that - Moore has developed all her different sides perfectly. The loneliness she suffers form makes her vulnerable to the smallest acts or hints of rejections. She veers on either making excuses to others or thinking the worst of herself. There is barely a normal reaction to how others treat her. So fragile have her nerves become. The most painful thing to bear might be her hope - that everything will still turn out well in the end. Despite its bleakness, the book also reads like a page-turner. You are never sure what will happen next and you are keeping your fingers crossed that there will be something, a tiny glimpse of happiness for poor Judith. But there are only her tiny shoe eyes smiling at her. There will be no redemption.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Long

    Quietly devastating. It's a book that is hard to sum up in a review because I couldn't possibly convey the depth of both despair and empathy that Moore was able to draw into Judith's story. It is one no review can prepare you for, it simply has to be read. Quietly devastating. It's a book that is hard to sum up in a review because I couldn't possibly convey the depth of both despair and empathy that Moore was able to draw into Judith's story. It is one no review can prepare you for, it simply has to be read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    "Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen wie des Grases Blumen. Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen....So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder, bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn. Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet auf die köstliche Frucht der Erde und ist geduldig darüber... Herr, lehre doch mich, daß ein Ende mit mir haben muß, und mein Leben ein Ziel hat, und ich davon muß." "For all flesh is as grass, and the glory of man like flowers. The grass withers and the flower falls...Therefo "Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen wie des Grases Blumen. Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen....So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder, bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn. Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet auf die köstliche Frucht der Erde und ist geduldig darüber... Herr, lehre doch mich, daß ein Ende mit mir haben muß, und mein Leben ein Ziel hat, und ich davon muß." "For all flesh is as grass, and the glory of man like flowers. The grass withers and the flower falls...Therefore be patient, dear brothers, for the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the delicious fruits of the earth and is patient for it...Lord, teach me That I must have an end, And my life has a purpose, and I must accept this." So here we have a bit of Brahms, which is what this book brings me to when I read it : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6zpV... Now, on my second reading of it, I find it even more disquieting than before. I had meant to skim the book again in order to write a better review than my usual short blah-bling all over the place, because it is a work that I've thought back on more than a few times in the past year. But the skimming didn't work and finally, I had an, "Oh, for Christ's sake!" moment, where I just decided to make this book once again one of the ones that goes with me in my bag, to work, Wal-Mart, and all those other sometimes awful places. Anyway, back to Brahms and death as relief and the seeking of consolation for the grief-stricken living. This book is like a requiem for the main character, and for her religion. This book is about doubt and what to do with it. This book is about, really, everything. It is neat as a pin and it doesn't waste words but also, yes, on another level it blossoms into black and just bleeds all over the place. At least, I think so. Judith Hearne believes the fabric of her life displays a certain design. Over time, the fabric develops a loose stitch. For some with the same problem, they might simply knot the unruly thread and tuck it back under another thread. This might be the wise thing to do, or the simplest thing to do, or the thing to do if you don't care about design and haven't been waiting and waiting forever for the goddamn fabric to go on and display its majestic pattern that it should have; that it seems all other people's fabrics have. But Judith can't do this. She can't leave a loose stitch just there. She worries the loose stitch. It frays. She tries to mend it, overstretches some of her fabric in the process and then the inevitable unraveling. But when the fabric is flawed, what can be done? When the threads of who you are are unsuitable and the unwinding begins and the requiem swells and hastens with every look in the mirror and every rejection... Faith, for Judith, is the primary floss in the fabric of her life. The Sacred Heart, framed with its painted halo showing the cracks of age, has to be in its "proper place," the "right place," looking down on her. She is wedded to this way of living, cloistered she has tended to the substance of her hopes, awaiting the day when it is her turn for the Bridegroom and redemption, reward for her steadfastness. The sacrifice of the Sacred Heart is also her sacrifice, she owns it too: Deserted God, she thought, you wait alone each night while men forget You. Pushing that frazzled hope back down again and again takes some doing. Religion was there: it was not something you thought about, and if, occasionally, you had a small doubt about something...well, that was the Devil at work and God's ways were not our ways. You could pray for guidance. She had always prayed for guidance, for help, for her good intentions...the Sacred Heart. He was her guide and comforter. And her terrible Judge. Ach, Judith! Your God, the girl with the strawberry curl, will not be so very very good to you. For you, it will be horrid. This problem, the looking for the grand design problem, is too devastating to keep at the bottom of your handbag. This is a proper undoing, and it begins and is unmercifully steep and relief is absent: And she was alone in the darkness. Shriven, her sins washed away...was it? Was there nothing to pray to? O merciful God, don't leave me, do not abandon me...O sacred heart, hear my prayer...No one. The church, an empty shell, nobody to hear, no reason to pray, only statues listen. Statues cannot hear...It does not matter...No one will remember me, no one will weep for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9IFP... Here is where we put this. "Everything:lives, hopes, devotions, thoughts. If you do not believe, you are alone." -Judith "There...You see? Life isn't so bad after all...and do you know something? There's chicken for lunch." -Sister Mary Annunciata, smiling

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dhanaraj Rajan

    One of the saddest stories I have read in the recent times........ It is about a forty year old Catholic plain looking poor spinster (Judith Hearne) whose sole aim is to be married and to have a home to share with someone. Her sick aunt, under whose care Judith grew as a teenager and a young girl, sees to it that Judith never finds a man and a job for the aunt wanted Judith to be with her as a nurse till the end of her death. When the aunt dies, Judith is above thirty with no money, no job and no One of the saddest stories I have read in the recent times........ It is about a forty year old Catholic plain looking poor spinster (Judith Hearne) whose sole aim is to be married and to have a home to share with someone. Her sick aunt, under whose care Judith grew as a teenager and a young girl, sees to it that Judith never finds a man and a job for the aunt wanted Judith to be with her as a nurse till the end of her death. When the aunt dies, Judith is above thirty with no money, no job and no man. Her only comfort was the time with her friend's family on a Sunday afternoon and the pious practices. She yearns for a marriage and a home and she believes that her dream would come true. But then, she slowly realises that her dream is a day dream that will never become a reality. Few Notable Observations: 1. The feelings of a single woman longing for a marriage and a family and the subsequent disappointments are expressed in few scenes which are very realistic and at the same time very sentimental. 2. The struggle of a believer (Catholic) is another important theme in the book. Judith, as a faithful Catholic believes that her service to her sick aunt is a holy act and that her regular prayers and the other such pious activities would please the Almighty and that He would reward her by granting her needs. But slowly she realsies that He gives only struggles and never ever shows a sign of His Presence. There are some four or five episodes in the novel which are dedicated to her struggle with the Belief. They are some of the powerful passages. The author himself was a Catholic and he had to struggle with his belief which he disowned consequently. These passages in the book can in fact be read as the author's own struggle with the Catholic teachings/belief. 3. The analysis of some of the characters seems to be crystal clear. Moore has the ability to go into a character and to excavate the particular character's emotions and thoughts. He had said in an interview once thus: "Writers like me lead a surrogate life. We don't really have a life of our own. I'm only happy when I'm writing about something or somebody else. I live through my books, in a way. No personality of my own." After reading this novel, I think he has lived up to his claim. Read the novel and you will understand an interesting person (Miss. Judith Hearne)and you will also cry with Judith Hearne........

  25. 4 out of 5

    M

    This book was simply devastating. Judy, a spinster, who is devoutly religious, a tad martyrish, and woefully unaware of her own reality, takes up residence at yet a new boarding house (this whole concept of shared living that seemed to be so common Back Then but now seemingly obsolete really fascinates me) where she meets a single man. In Judy's classic way she immediately assumes more to the connection than there is, and the story quickly details the devastation of Judy, who is also mishandling This book was simply devastating. Judy, a spinster, who is devoutly religious, a tad martyrish, and woefully unaware of her own reality, takes up residence at yet a new boarding house (this whole concept of shared living that seemed to be so common Back Then but now seemingly obsolete really fascinates me) where she meets a single man. In Judy's classic way she immediately assumes more to the connection than there is, and the story quickly details the devastation of Judy, who is also mishandling her alcohol problem. This novel is searing and beautifully written. Judy is a pitiful woman who stays with you emotionally. In many ways her lonely passion is not only the longing for male companionship (and companionship of any kind) but also her lonely passion for religion - a one sided relationship that, as her life unravels, seems all the less accessible, real, and comforting. Judy's life is a series of slammed doors, felt more by the reader than she, and so the lonely passion is all the more tragic as she cannot even share the reality of her situation with herself. A troubling book but super worthwhile.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is not an easy book to read, especially if you're intent on avoiding tales of depression and disintegration. Set in the 1950s in Belfast, in a very Catholic population among the larger Protestant majority, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore tells of a fortyish spinster who bets it all on a former hotel doorman who's been to America. But alas, all that James Madden is interested in is not Judith, but finding an investment partner for opening an American style diner in Dublin. This is not an easy book to read, especially if you're intent on avoiding tales of depression and disintegration. Set in the 1950s in Belfast, in a very Catholic population among the larger Protestant majority, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore tells of a fortyish spinster who bets it all on a former hotel doorman who's been to America. But alas, all that James Madden is interested in is not Judith, but finding an investment partner for opening an American style diner in Dublin. But Judith not only has not the money, but is interested only in what she sees as her last chance at matrimony. The connection fails to take place, so Judith takes to drink and becomes a very obvious toper. At the same time, she loses her faith in God. Moore follows Miss Hearne's descent into the abyss without blinking. In the end, she pays dearly for not being to see things and people for what they are, and not what she wants them to be. When she visits her good friends, the O'Neills, her invariable line as she walks through the door is, "It's only me." It's difficult to do what Moore did without losing control and traipsing off into self-indulgent riffs. In the end, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is a small masterpiece.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    How to recommend a book full of utter despair and hopelessness? But I will. This is a book that I'm envious of, envious of not having written it. Even if it was written 22 years before i was born ;o) Moore managed to get himself inside the head of Judith in a brilliant way. Her yearning for something, some sort of connection, making her see things that weren't there. Hoping against hope that her situation will change even as she does almost nothing to change it. I suppose this book couldn't really How to recommend a book full of utter despair and hopelessness? But I will. This is a book that I'm envious of, envious of not having written it. Even if it was written 22 years before i was born ;o) Moore managed to get himself inside the head of Judith in a brilliant way. Her yearning for something, some sort of connection, making her see things that weren't there. Hoping against hope that her situation will change even as she does almost nothing to change it. I suppose this book couldn't really be written now, because so much has changed since 1950s Belfast. One is not relegated to the trash heap of sorrow if unmarried at 40, for example. Nowadays, Judith would be told to go back to school, get some new skills and find herself a new job and hopefully new friends...but even now, could she have, really? She struck me as an utterly damaged soul - damaged by her upbringing, by her religion, by her lack of connections and inability to make them. And that resonates, no matter the time period. I'm probably not selling it well enough. Regardless, it's a wonderfully bleak book full of real humanity and real soul, whatever that might mean to you.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Beautifully written, but (and?) glum, glum, glum and grim. Slightly reminiscent of Jean Rhys, except even more hopeless and drab -- Moore's prose style is good, but not as diamond-hard and faceted as hers, and the Rhys women at least get to rebel. This is the story from the other side, a life crushed into conformity. One of the few books I've read that manages to thoroughly de-mythologize Ireland (which also means un-Joyceing it, altho you can see a bit of Dubliners peeking out now and then). On Beautifully written, but (and?) glum, glum, glum and grim. Slightly reminiscent of Jean Rhys, except even more hopeless and drab -- Moore's prose style is good, but not as diamond-hard and faceted as hers, and the Rhys women at least get to rebel. This is the story from the other side, a life crushed into conformity. One of the few books I've read that manages to thoroughly de-mythologize Ireland (which also means un-Joyceing it, altho you can see a bit of Dubliners peeking out now and then). One of those books which is exhilarating to read, but the people you're reading about are so desperate and miserable it's depressing if you think of it on their terms, so it produces a curiously mixed effect. Terribly overlooked and underpraised.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Smitha Murthy

    I am not much of a drinker, but pour me a nice G&T, please. Because this book is just one of the saddest books I have ever read. Like Judith, I need something ‘medicinal’ to recover. Some books just choke you. ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’ is one of those. It’s set in Belfast in the 1950s and is a scathing, searing look at loneliness and faith. Brian Moore just grabs you by the throat and never lets go. At one point, I kept aside my coconut chips that I normally have during my Sunday rea I am not much of a drinker, but pour me a nice G&T, please. Because this book is just one of the saddest books I have ever read. Like Judith, I need something ‘medicinal’ to recover. Some books just choke you. ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’ is one of those. It’s set in Belfast in the 1950s and is a scathing, searing look at loneliness and faith. Brian Moore just grabs you by the throat and never lets go. At one point, I kept aside my coconut chips that I normally have during my Sunday reading sessions because it was too distressing to read about Judith’s plight and chomp away on chips. After reading this, you will thank yourself that you have only the mild matter of a pandemic to worry about. Judith makes you feel that everything else in life can be sorted out because when you lose faith in the divine and your faith in humanity, honestly what can you live on? Pass me that G&T, again. Phew. *Downs it in one shot. Utter sadness. But a beautiful book of unrelenting sadness. And who among us has not felt what Judith Hearne has felt? Felt that aching sense of loneliness and loss of belief?

  30. 4 out of 5

    D

    I think I have to go with 5 stars. It was just such a compelling story- albeit bleak, sometimes unrelentingly so- and expertly told. Moore is a superb novelist, each character came to life, in all their flawed glory. This one will stay with me for a long time.

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