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  • Published: 2 May 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446435755
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

Ghost Light

A powerful and deeply moving masterpiece about love, partings and reconciliation. Reissued in a new series look to coincide with the publication of his new novel, Shadowplay

A powerful and deeply moving masterpiece about love, partings and reconciliation from the international bestselling author of Star of the Sea 'A virtuoso display of literary talent...brimming with sympathy and skill' Irish TimesDublin, 1907. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works.

Outspoken and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a Catholic girl from the slums of Dublin, dreaming of stardom in America. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, whose life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Their affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is quarrelsome, affectionate and tender.

Many years later, Molly, now a poverty-stricken old woman, makes her way through London's bomb-scarred city streets, alone but for a snowdrift of memories. Her once dazzling career has faded but her unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat. 'Masterful in its management of re-imagined lives and the time they inhabit' Financial Times

  • Published: 2 May 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446435755
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the author

Joseph O'Connor

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. His books include eight previous novels: Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea (American Library Association Award, Irish Post Award for Fiction, France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European novel of the year), Redemption Falls, Ghost Light (Dublin One City One Book Novel 2011) and The Thrill of it All. His fiction has been translated into forty languages. He received the 2012 Irish PEN Award for outstanding achievement in literature and in 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.


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Praise for Ghost Light

A brilliant novel.

Joseph O'Neill

[A] superbly written, magically evocative novel

David Robinson, The Scotsman

This remarkable, radiant and captivating novel... (is) deeply and resolutely imagined... O'Connor's novel carries all the pungency and resonance of a particular era of the past.

Patricia Craig, The Independent

Masterful in its management of re-imagined lives and the time they inhabit

Hugo Hamilton, Financial Times

A virtuoso display of literary talent

Adrian Frazier, Irish Times

A deeply moving, beautifully written story

Glasgow Herald

A tender compassionate love story

Keith Hopper, Times Literary Supplement

He brings to life the joys and disappointments of a doomed romance with a rare and sparkling intensity

Books Ireland

O'Connor has fashioned the delicate bloom of a love story... Beautifully written and charming

James Urquhart, The Independent

Displays typical imaginative virtuosity and emotional depth in his re-creation of the ill-fated romance between the ailing playwright JM Synge and Molly Allgood ... As well as being impressively well crafted, the novel is wreathed in language of Joycean richness.

Trevor Lewis, The Sunday Times

This is an entertaining read that carries a touching tale

The Economist

In this beautifully crafted narrative...that vanished turn-of-the-century world - and the oblique character of Synge - are evoked as magically as the world of London in the 1950s

Reader's Digest

Ghost Light is as fine-boned and delicately wrought as a bird's skeleton, each part interlinking and making a beautiful whole. The pace is slow, but the novel comes to an acutely moving climax: a fitting end to a haunting book about the lasting importance of memory, and the absurdity of love.

Philip Womack, Telegraph

An astonishing command of voice and period detail

Colm Toibin, Daily Telegraph Summer Reads

Joseph O'Connor is one of the most exciting novelists of his generation

David Robson, Daily Mail

Displays an astonishing command of voice, using tones that are both tender and powerfully emotional, with brilliant command of the period.

Colm Toibin, Daily Telegraph, Christmas round up

Involving novel

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Christmas round up

Absolutely brilliant - a beautifully written love story and somehow, a chunk of Irish social and political history.

Roddy Doyle, Guardian, Christmas round up

O'Conner's involving novel puts you inside the mind of Molly Allgood, an elderly actress wandering round a brilliantly evoked 1950's London... Contrasting with the down-at-heel circumstances to which she is reduced are memories, rendered with sensuous freshness and vernacular wit, of her rich past

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times Magazine

This is a dream of a novel, beautifully written, the tragedy of a disappointed life wrapped in the chewy crust of indomitable humour... take [it] away somewhere quiet and listen to its music for yourself. You won't regret it

Arminta Wallace, Irish Times

Throughout a complex structure with shifting timeframes, O'Connor's writing is compellingly beautiful and Molly is marvelously drawn. A captivating read


A boutique examination of the love affair between JM Synge, Ireland's eminent 20th century playwright, and his fiancée, the actress Molly Allgood ... the tenderness, passion and risk of their drawn out affair is captured in O'Connor's elegant but wistful prose

James Urquhart, Financial Times

Without wasting a word, he conjures up a dilapidated 1950s London that perfectly mirrors its heroine, and creates a spellbinding tale of thwarted love


I had to read some bits out loud, they were so funny

Gemma Kappala-Ramsamy, Observer

An involving novel that takes us inside the mind of an elderly actress drifting round a brilliantly evoked 1950s London. Contrasting with her reduced circumstances are her memories, rendered with sensuous freshness.

Sunday Times

This is a great ambitious novel about love, loss, lamentation. Joseph O'Connor has the magic touch...I can't imagine many better -- or braver -- novels coming out this year.

Colum McCann

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