Ghost Light by Joseph O'Connor
Dublin 1907, a city of whispered rumours. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Rebellious and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a girl of the inner city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. She has dozens of admirers but in the backstage of her life there is a secret. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of loneliness and severity he has long been ill, but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, often tender. Many years later, an old woman makes her way across London on the morning after a hurricane. Christmas is coming. As she wanders past bombsites and through the city's forlorn beauty, a snowdrift of memories and lost desires seems to swirl. She has twice been married: once widowed, once divorced, but an unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat as her dazzling career has faded. A story of love's commitment, of partings and reconciliations, of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms, Ghost Light is a profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting novel.