Synopses & Reviews
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 Toibin 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 Toibin 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."
"The Heather Blazing is as contemporary as today's Irish Times, and its author writes with the vision of an enlightened Republic of Ireland still being struggled toward in the world outside fiction." The New York Times Book Review
"A stunning Irish novel, which seems to derive its clear and affecting style in part from the staunch personality of its protagonist... and in part from the chilly beauty of the southeast coast of Ireland." The New Yorker
"This lovely, understated novel proceeds with stately grace." Alice McDermott, The Washington Post Book World
"A moving tale... The more one thinks about this clear-headed yet intense book, the stronger the impression it leaves." Los Angeles Times Book Review
"There are... a handful of writers who manage to combine our time's awareness of the boot tracks families leave on their members' psyches with a direct and uncomplicated experience of those wounded lives. They are masters, and there are precious few of them.... To nominate someone for that august company, Colm Toibin seems and unavoidable candidate." Goffrey Stokes, The Boston Globe
"The Heather Blazing makes a breathtaking leap into the realm of Joyce's Dubliners." Mirabella
"Beautifully written... Toibin weaves past and present together in a way designed to extract maximum resonance....One of the book's surprises is its subtle humor, its awareness of small ironies." Voice Literary Supplement
The Heather Blazing is a narrative of the life of Eamon Redmond, a reserved but highly respected Dublin judge whose judgements are often controversial and often land him in trouble with his grown son and daughter, with whom his relationship has always been distant. When Redmond's wife Carmel has a stroke and becomes a semi-invalid, he reevaluates his life, including his connections with his family and in particular his feelings for his long-dead father, a determinedly republican teacher and supporter of the Fianna Fail party founded by Eamon de Valera (who makes a cameo appearance). Using flashbacks to Redmond's childhood alternating with episodes from the present, Toibin delineates a complex human being, and illuminates recent Irish history in the process.
About the Author
Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland and lives in Dublin. He is one of Ireland's best known journalists. He is the author of The South, winner of the Irish Times/Aer Lingus Prize. In 1995, he was awarded the Academy of Arts and Letters E. M. Forster Prize. He is also the author of The Heather Blazing and The Story of the Night.