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The Little Red Chairs


A fiercely beautiful novel about one woman's struggle to reclaim a life shattered by betrayal from the 2018 winner of the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

One night, in the dead of winter, a mysterious stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Broodingly handsome, worldly, and charismatic, Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, a self-proclaimed holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Before long, the beautiful black-haired Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and, defying the shackles of wedlock and convention, turns to him to cure her of her deepest pains. 

Then, one morning, the illusion is abruptly shattered. While en route to pay tribute at Yeats's grave, Dr. Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a notorious war criminal and mass murderer. The Cloonoila community is devastated by this revelation, and no one more than Fidelma, who is made to pay for her deviance and desire. In disgrace and utterly alone, she embarks on a journey that will bring both profound hardship and, ultimately, the prospect of redemption. 

Moving from Ireland to London and then to The Hague, The Little Red Chairs is Edna O'Brien's first novel in ten years -- a vivid and unflinching exploration of humanity's capacity for evil and artifice as well as the bravest kind of love.

The great Edna O'Brien has written her masterpiece. -- Philip Roth

An extraordinary triumph ... This is storytelling of the highest order, resounding with the empathy and authority we yearn for in fine writing ... Edna O'Brien is one of the greatest Irish writers, of this or any era. -- Joseph O'Connor ― Sunday Independent

Edna O'Brien has created a memorable work of art for our unsettled times ... Her prose is as lyrically arresting as ever, her vision as astute, and as delicate. The Little Red Chairs is notable for its interweaving of the near-mythical and the urgent present, and for its unflinching exploration of the complex and lasting effects of human brutality ... at once arduous and beautiful. -- Claire Messud ― Financial Times

O'Brien is a very gifted novelist ... There is much to think about in this rich, searching and enthralling book, a novel of ideas as well as emotions, and arguably one of the most interesting and ambitious ever written by an Irish author. -- Éilís Ní Dhuibhne ― Irish Times

The product of an extraordinary talent ... a novel that leaves an indelible impression - gorgeously written and fiercely humane. -- Stephanie Cross ― Daily Mail

Authoritative and engrossing ... filled with a narrative energy and aplomb ... O'Brien is among the most compellingly observant of present-day novelists. -- Patricia Craig ― Independent

Magnificent ... O'Brien has broadened her focus to the international arena, letting out a forceful cry against human brutality ... a timely and defiant book. -- Lucy Atkins ― Sunday Times

This isn't simply a story about hope, deception and betrayal. O'Brien questions the nature of evil throughout but also wonders whether there is room for redemption and how we can find our way back to the flock. While O'Brien remains a literary great, she wears this mantle lightly in this provocative, moving, masterly and offbeat work. -- Fiona Wilson ― The Times

The Little Red Chairs is a daring invention set at the bloody crossroads where worlds collide: savage, tender and true. -- John Banville

Edna O'Brien . . . is writing at full throttle: The Little Red Chairs brings together the ghosts of Ireland and eastern Europe in a narr­atively complex and psychologically incisive novel about private and public betrayals. -- Mark Lawson ― Guardian

The Little Red Chairs is the kind of masterpiece that reminds you why you read books in the first place. -- Julie Myerson ― Guardian

Edna O'Brien's profound and haunting novel The Little Red Chairstells an engrossing story, while getting to grips, judiciously and dispassionately, with the enormities and exigencies of the modern world. -- Patricia Craig ― Irish Times

An extraordinarily good book, full of O'Brien's incredible ability to create complex characters you care about. -- Miriam O'Callaghan ― Irish Times

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