The Past

Neil Jordan. Counterpoint/Soft Skull, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-59376-510-1
The out-of-print debut, originally published in 1980, of novelist (Night in Tunisia) and film director (The Crying Game) Jordan is an elegiac remembrance of two larger-than-life Irish women set in the early decades of the last century. In 1914, “mediocre actress” Una O’Shaughnessy leaves Ireland for a short vacation in England; in fact, Una is pregnant, and when she returns months later, it’s after a hasty marriage and with a beautiful baby girl, Rene. Her husband, Michael, dies in the Irish revolution, and as Una enters middle age, she settles into a new role as patriotic widow and stage mother while Rene becomes a model and actress in her own right, fatefully attracting the attention of two men, well-to-do photographer James Vance and his much younger son, Luke. Jordan skillfully evokes a sense of the past coming in and out of focus, presenting the story’s events as reconstructions by the son Rene eventually bears, interspersed with an elderly family friend’s memories as well. After a strong first half involving revolutionary tumult, the novel suffers somewhat as it shifts focus from Una to Rene and recedes into character study. While this first novel has some drawbacks in plotting, it’s often an exceptional exercise in style. Agent: David Forrer, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 12/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 289 pages - 978-1-59376-497-5
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