UK Publishing Date: 29 Oct 2015. 320 pages.
“The Little Red Chairs” is the new book by Irish author Edna O’Brien and her first for about ten years. She specializes in crafting superb characters in sleepy communities that are completely believable and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of her novels. I found myself struggling with this one though and I’m not entirely sure why. This is quite a short book by her standards and there are a lot of characters crammed into the story.
Vlad is a healer and when he settles in the small Irish village of Cloonoila all of the locals take him to their hearts. There is something dark and mysterious about this Eastern European stranger and that makes the attraction even bigger for Fidelma who begins an affair with him and soon decides that she wants him to be the father of her child.
It isn’t long before Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a war criminal. Think Radovan Karadzic and you get an idea of the type of crimes that he has perpetrated in his home nation. Fidelma is by now pregnant and ostracised by her community for collaborating with the Beast of the Balkans.
I found it very hard to feel any sympathy for the fairly annoying Fidelma. Unlike many of Edna’s heroines you just feel like she deserves what she has got. She is just naive and quite irritating. This isn’t what put me off the book though. There are just too many different people telling their own stories of the horror and degradation that they suffered and as a result that is no real flow to the book. In many respects it feels more like an anthology of different stories.
Supplied by Net Galley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
You can buy the book here: The Little Red Chairs