The Night Stages

Jane Urquhart. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-22219-2
Urquhart (Sanctuary Line) delivers an impressionistic and forlorn postwar romance. Framed by the career of an ingenious real-life artist named Kenneth, the novel emulates an actual mural of his, Gander Airport’s Flight and Its Allegories. But only gradually is Kenneth’s mural connected to the recollections of an auxiliary pilot named Tamara and the life she lived in rural Ireland with her lover, the meteorologist Niall and his tortured brother, Kieran. As Tamara and Niall live a life of relative calm punctuated by the gorgeously evoked Irish landscape and their memories of the war, Kieran becomes a bicycle racer and, following a prestigious race, disappears completely. Niall blames himself and undertakes a fruitless search for his brother. But Tamara understands Kieran’s love of speed better than she admits, and even as she prepares to leave Ireland, a love triangle develops. Urquhart’s evocative novel may not exactly break new ground, but passages rich with the aura of distant love make this novel a lovely dream of emotional landscapes. Kieran, Tamara, and Niall are well drawn, never succumbing to stereotype or symbolic shorthand—but the long chapters detailing Kenneth’s labors on his mural make for laborious reading and come off as only incidentally connected to the central love story. For readers willing to surrender to the mood, this stands as an exemplar of both Canadian and Irish literature. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015
Release date: 07/28/2015
Genre: Fiction
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Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-374-71345-4
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