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Shade: A Novelby Neil Jordan
Synopses & Reviews
The Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan returns to fiction with a haunting, highly praised novel, his first in ten years. Narrated by the ghost of Nina Hardy, an actress who is murdered in the opening scene of the book, Shade tells the story of two pairs of siblings growing up in Ireland in the first half of the century. Through a childhood that memory gives the luster of romance and the tragedy that strikes as the children reach adolescence and the two boys leave for the Great War, these unforgettable characters reach the 1950s to play their roles in a murder ultimately revealed as the opposite of the senseless crime it seems.
"Elegantly sober narration from beyond the grave ('George killed me with his gardening shears....He held the shears to my neck in the glasshouse, and with quite spectacular clumsiness opened a moonlike gash on my throat') distinguishes this ghost story from novelist and Oscar-winning filmmaker (The Crying Game) Jordan. His gloomy tale, spanning the first half of the 20th century, begins where the story ends: Nina Hardy is murdered by her childhood friend, George, now the gardener on the estate where she spent her youth. The rest of the book looks backward, as Nina reflects on her life and the lives of her half-brother Gregory, George and George's sister, Janie. The familiar, theatrical plot — with its traumas of unrequited love across class lines, incestuous longings, war — is secondary to Nina's voice: 'I am everywhere being nowhere, the narrative sublime....' Her ghostly omniscience leads to echoing motifs, including drowned women, pendulums, dolls and childhood accidents, in 'a shifting, uncertain world, where each question could be referred to an entity that wasn't there,' even as the reasons behind the murder become more unsettlingly clear. Nina's ghost sometimes takes a backseat to stretches of exposition from less engaging characters, and the novel as a whole can feel dreamily disjointed. Such lapses are forgiven, though, in this otherwise daring and well-crafted whole. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. BOMC and Doubleday Book Club selection; 5-city author tour." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Seduces readers with the first sentence....Far from a filmmaker moonlighting as a fiction writer, he's a novelist at the top of his craft." People (four stars)
"[A] starkly evocative novel of classism, deceits, unrequited love and grisly muurder....A dreamy sensuous and deeply engaging tale worthy of the best Irish fiction." Baltimore Sun
"[L]avish, meticulous....Jordan's writing...easily communicates the nuances that shape the friends' relationships, as well as the enthralling story that drives the reader to find out exactly why Nina was murdered." San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] lyrical experiment in point of view....
"[E]laborately orchestrated....There are many beautiful moments here, but the vivid particulars do not consistently cohere. Still, Jordan undoubtedly has the skills to turn it into a movie that will be well worth seeing." Kirkus Reviews
"A dreamy and elegant period novel....Like a good film noir, Shade begins at the end and works its way back to the beginning....
"Jordan, who loves tricks and surprise endings, rises to his own challenge of keeping us in suspense even though we already know how the story is going to end." The New York Times Book Review
"Very few novels improve dramatically at the halfway point, and fewer still surge into brilliance in their final pages. Though there are no secrets here on a scale with...The Crying Game, there is far more whipping the reader forward..." Los Angeles Times
"This fourth novel by award-winning writer and film director Jordan is as cryptic as his Oscar-winning The Crying Game....Jordan's prose is dramatic, poetic, and surprising by turns." Library Journal
"Jordan's writing is atmospheric and filled with memorable images, but the second half of the novel, building toward the murder, sometimes feels perfunctory." The New Yorker
"Astonishing....Beautifully written and plotted to dizzying perfection, the story unfolds with that rolling sense of inevitability that marks great tragedy....One of the most compelling and interesting novels of the year." Tampa Tribune
"At once a human drama and a fascinating metaphysical mystery, Shade courses itss way, like the river Boyne that runs through it, steadily, patiently but, thankfully, never predictably.before reaching its final, heartbreaking denouement. Triumphant." Patrick McCabe
"With this fierce, dark and yet luminous novel, Neil Jordan once again demonstraates that he is one of Ireland's most talented artists." John Banville
The Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan returns to fiction with a haunting, highly praised novel, his first in ten years. Narrated by the ghost of Nina Hardy, an actress who is murdered in the opening scene of the book, Shade tells the story of two pairs of siblings growing up in Ireland in the first half of the century. Through a childhood that memory gives the luster of romance and the tragedy that strikes as the children reach adolescence and the two boys leave for the Great War, these unforgettable characters reach the 1950s to play their roles in a murder ultimately revealed as the opposite ofthe senseless crime it seems.
Neil Jordan is the award-winning writer and director of such film as Mona Lisa, The End of the Affair, and The Crying Game, for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1993. He is also the author of three previous novels—The Past, The Dream of a Beast, and Sunrise with Sea Monster—and a short-story collection, Night in Tunisia.
From one of Ireland's most acclaimed writers and film directors comes this moving, unsettling, artfully crafted novel—an alluring mix of elegy and poetry, love story and ghost story, growing up and going to war.
Nina Hardy has been murdered. She dies in the garden of the house where she grew up, killed by George, her childhood friend. But her body is never found, and she remains a silent shade, watching—and retelling—the events of her life, and her afterlife. Meanwhile Nina's half brother, Gregory, makes a pilgrimage home for her funeral, after some thirty years away. There he finds Janie, George's sister and the fourth member of their childhood gang. Together they struggle to make sense of Nina's death and the people they all became.
With Nina's shade as witness, they retrace a story of imaginary friends and hayrides, plays and school dances, a seemingly idyllic Irish childhood beside the mudflats of the Rover Boyne. As the children reach adolescence, however, they discover that the outside world cannot be kept at bay, and finally the fragile balance of their friendship is interrupted. Ultimately they will be torn apart by the outbreak of war, and brought together again only to find that each has changed almost beyond recognition. And by the end of this chilling, compelling novel—a number-one bestseller in Ireland—the seemingly senseless crime with which the tale began is revealed in all its horrific and heartbreaking meaning.
"The extraordinary Shade [returns] Jordan to his Irish roots and, more particularly, to the intricate emotional landscape of his early work . . . Jordan's rich, visual prose is perfectly cadenced to this tragedy of misplaced love. Few writers can convey human loneliness in quite such an achingly spare, unsentimental form."—The Independent
"Romantic [and] lyrical . . . It succeeds powerfully."—The Sunday Times
"So good it leaves one wondering why [Jordan] bothers making movies. His belief in language is absolute, as is his mastery of it. Jordan doesn't waste words and the ones he uses are invariably the right ones . . . This is a very good book, possessing an elegiac resonance."—The Irish Times
"Extraordinary . . . An enormously powerful book. I'd stake a bet it'll win [the author] prizes."—The Telegraph
"The work of a mature master . . . The delicate, evanescent world that Jordan conjures up [is] so enchanted as to be almost illusory . . . It's Jordan's triumph in this beautifully written book that he's made us feel the power of those moments and of that domain with such aching recognition."—Irish Independent
"With this fierce, dark, and yet luminous novel, Neil Jordan once again demonstrates that he is one of Ireland's most talented artists."—John Banville
"Compelling, intriguing, precise, and poetic, personal and political, at once a human drama and a fascinating metaphysical mystery."—Patrick McCabe
"The ghost of a murdered woman relives and evaluates her life in this elaborately orchestrated tale from the Irish novelist and filmmaker."—Kirkus Reviews
"This fourth novel by award-winning writer and film director Jordan is as cryptic as his Oscar-winning The Crying Game. Set in Ireland, it begins with a brutal murder and continues with the story of four characters, alternating between past and present and including the voice of the murder victim until the story culminates in a gasp-out-loud ending, for which Jordan is known. The two male protagonists, Gregory and George, give vivid descriptions of World War I battles, from which George emerges physically and emotionally scarred. Nina, the 'shade,' tells of her career as an actress, while Janie is left behind in Ireland to hold together the pieces of their joint past. Jordan's prose is dramatic, poetic, and surprising by turns. Recommended for large public libraries."—Library Journal
"Elegantly sober narration from beyond the grave ('George killed me with his gardening shears . . . He held the shears to my neck in the glasshouse, and with quite spectacular clumsiness opened a moonlike gash on my throat') distinguishes this ghost story from novelist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan."—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Neil Jordan is the award-winning writer and director of such films as Mona Lisa, The End of the Affair, and The Crying Game, for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1993. He is also the author of three previous novels — The Past, The Dream of a Beast, and Sunrise with Sea Monster — and a short-story collection, Night in Tunisia.
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