I am a Joseph O’Connor fan. I first fell in love with his books many years ago when I read Desperadoes. If you haven’t read him before, I recommend that as a great starting point. I also loved Star of the Sea. More recently, Redemption Falls was less to my taste because I found the voices difficult to distinguish and the unrelenting misery in the tale hard to bear. In choosing to read Ghost Light I was hoping to get back to more familiar territory and, in a way, I guess I did.
Ghost Light is a kind of love story that centres on an actress, Maire O’Neill and the playwright, John Millington Synge. The title is well chosen because the telling of the tale has a kind of half lit melancholy about it that is reminiscent of a particular time in Ireland. ‘Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low and the glistening shadows softly come and go’.
Again, O’Connor is experimental with voice and the story flips backwards and forwards in time and flips between the USA and Ireland. For me, these techniques got in the way of connecting with the story at first, but as the tale unfolds, you do get drawn in. For me, it’s not O’Connor at his best and I still think, if you’re only going to read one of his novels, I would recommend one of the earlier ones like Desperadoes or Star of the Sea.