Saturday 28 March 2020

The Heather Blazing | Colm Tóibin #Begorrathon

Oh, this was utterly delicious. Deliciously melancholy, if that's a thing.

The Heather Blazing is the story of Judge Eamon Redmond, and the loss and grief that has defined his whole life. Tóibin writes these rather sad, introspective characters so well. Like Nora Webster, you're left wondering, if perhaps Eamon's first person story is missing an important piece to the puzzle of his life. There are hints, in his relationship with his wife and children, comments they make about his distance, lack of loving gestures and affection, that suggest he wasn't an easy to person to live with. Eamon also struggles with his emotional life, constantly afraid to show his true feelings. Taught from a young age to stay on the sidelines, always watching but not included in the adult decisions being made around him. Seeking solace in solitude, books and walking.

Eamon's sad, lonely childhood affected his ability to show the people in his life that he cared. We, the reader, can feel his emotional pain and see how much he loves those around him, but we can also see that it's all internal. Eamon thinks and feels and deliberates, but he doesn't express or show or share.

The frustrations of his wife and children are tangible, but Eamon is powerless to change.

The political and environmental story line that ran alongside Eamon's story was almost an allegory, with shifting political allegiances and houses slowly crumbling into the sea. The inevitable march of time and natural forces beyond our control reflecting Eamon's faltering progress through his own life.

I also learnt a bit about the history and differences between Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Fine Gael.

Donaghmore, Wexford County, Ireland
Highly recommended to anyone who loves their Irish Lit to be gentle and thoughtful.

Nora Webster


  1. I generally only read book reviews if something in the blurb catches my eye. This caught my eye:

    Oh, this was utterly delicious. Deliciously melancholy, if that's a thing.

    Thanks to your review, I have added this book to my TBR!

    1. Thanks Jinjer. I have The Master by Toibin tucked away somewhere on my shelves so even more keen to read it now :-)

  2. He is one of those authors whose works I rarely read and, yet, I am convinced that "someday" I'll read them all, because I've enjoyed the short stories and novel excerpts I've read so far, and he is always delightful in interviews! Even without having read this volume, I still enjoyed reading your responses to it too.

    1. I really hope you dive into Toibin's work soon, although his melancholy tone may not be very suitable for current times.
      I've read interviews with Toibin but not listened to any. I imagine he has a lovely Irish accent that would make the experience utterly delightful :-)


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