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Ghost Moth Hardcover – 26 Dec 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st edition (26 Dec 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297870440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297870449
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 361,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Clever, unpredictable, beautifully written and crafted - Ghost Moth stayed with me for a long time after I'd finished reading the final, sad, wonderful page (Roddy Doyle)

Deeply - sometimes erotically - charged. The writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it...Katherine Bedford - so ordinary and so passionate - is a heroine to treasure (Anne Enright)

An impressive debut by a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings. We shall be hearing a great deal more from Michèle Forbes (John Banville)

A bountiful river of lovely images, fresh and perfect, a triumphant story both familiar and strange. A stellar debut (Sebastian Barry)

This beautifully written first novel is about the kind of love that can never be blotted out... a tender, heartbreaking story about choices made and secrets kept too long (Kate Saunders THE TIMES)

An impressively sure-footed debut, lyrical and contemplative in equal measure (THE MAIL ON SUNDAY)

A delicate and unusual endeavour to write about ordinary people in a way that is so realistic that it almost reads like memoir. The passages evoking Katherine's children are outstanding. The meditations on maternal and marital love verge on the profound. And the ending will bring a lump to your throat. (Claire Kilroy THE GUARDIAN)

Michele Forbes' startlingly assured debut has already won praise from those giants of Irish literature John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, and rightly so... Lyrical and at times almost unbearably tender (the final scenes between Katherine and George will break your heart), Forbes delicately captures the echoes of history that pierce the present (Jane Clinton SUNDAY EXPRESS)

This moving story is beautifully written, with powerful imagery and prose that becomes quite mesmerising at times. An astonishingly accomplished debut by actress-turned-author Forbes, this haunting novel will linger in your mind (Deidre O'Brien SUNDAY MIRROR)

I was thoroughly caught up in this beautifully written debut novel. Set in Northern Ireland, in 1949 Katherine must choose between George Bedford and Tom McKinley. What happened that summer will haunt Katherine and George 20 years later, when they try to save their marriage. (Fanny Blake WOMAN & HOME)

Before this amazingly assured and beautifully executed first novel, Belfast-born Forbes worked as an actor, and this shows how seamlessly a performer can morph into a creator... Forbes is intelligent, humorous and occasionally heartbreaking; a very safe bet for the next round of literary prizes (SAGA)

Eloquently written and full of lyrical descriptions, Ghost Moth shines a light on everyday lives and offers the reader some unforgettable characters (CHOICE)

Forbes, who has already won major awards for her short stories, knows how to write - her prose is unfailingly elegant - her images are often arresting... the book confirms its author as an exceptional talent (John Boland BELFAST TELEGRAPH)

Ghost Moth takes place during the Troubles, but it is far from just another book about them. Lyrical and beautifully written, it uses the outbreak of the Protestant/Catholic struggles and IRA bombings in the Sixties as a backdrop, but it is more of a character study and riveting family drama - concerned with the secrets, lies and hidden torments between those one is closest to, and the heartbreak of lost love. (THE BOOKSELLER)

A beautifully written debut. Confident and lyrical. Michele Forbes is a name to watch (IRISH EXAMINER)

Quiet tragedy in the ordinary lives of real human beings... Michele Forbes' first novel has been heaped with praise and rightly so... as the book proceeds, it darkens, vividly evoking the divisions and bitterness that erupt with the onset of the Troubles. (IRISH INDEPENDENT)

Forbes' writing possesses a stealthy power, and her patient layering of the story results in a surprising emotional impact by the time the final page is turned. (THE LIST)

Ghost Moth, Michèle Forbes' exquisitely written debut, handles love, loss and silence with a delicate, nuanced touch... From its striking opening sequence to its heartrending closing passage, Forbes' novel is beautifully expressed, so accomplished that it's hard to believe that it's her first (Susan Osborne

It isn't often that a book makes me cry; makes me experience a deep anguish that the characters have spent their lives living with a painful regret that taints everything they do, blotting out the joy they should be experiencing in the present moment; leaves a tiny fragment of itself inside me to ponder over. Michèle Forbes's debut novel, Ghost Moth, is such a book... Ghost Moth is beautifully written with descriptive, engaging prose rich with symbolism and metaphor that places the reader in the moment with exactness and great skill (Julie Fisher

A subtle, passionate story of private grief set against public crisis (Forbes Magazine)

A very promising debut novel with flashes of brilliance and a poetic heart...a deeply moving examination of the minutiae of everyday life (

The intensely lyrical Ghost in part a meditation on differing forms of love...The 'ghost moth' of the title flutters through the novel, alighting on various pages. As Katherine explains to her daughter, 'Some people believed that ghost moths were the souls of the dead waiting to be caught.' In this affecting portrait of lost love and a lost city, Forbes catches those souls beautifully (THE SPECTATOR)

The author expertly maps the routines of family life an domesticity in ways both romantic and familiar. The scenes in which Katerine enjoys the company of her four young children during the summer holidays are delightful... It is to the author's credit that this book, so carefully contextualized as it is, never feels like a glib denunciation of The Troubles (TLS)

An evocative sense of time and place, flawed characters and some hauntingly lyrical prose - this book delivers at every level... for a debut novel, it's outstanding (NEWBOOKS MAGAZINE)

Ghost Moth is very good. It's beautifully written... Forbes has a lightness of touch. Her dialogue is superb. (Thomas Quinn THE BIG ISSUE)

Forbes' writing is exquisite. Everything you read is suffused through with meaning. From the opening scene of Katherine staring the seal in the face to the very end with Elsa, there is a hidden depth to everything. It's difficult to believe this is a debut novel - Forbes seems like she's an old pro at the form. For those who want to see how a novel should be done, Ghost Moth is a worthy read. It's as good inside as the cover makes it look. (Sarah Shaffi

A serious-minded novel (novella really) which treats a familiar and quintessential human predicament with poetry, sensitivity and no little skill, not least in including a magical and unexpected coda over which hovers the eponymous Ghost Moth (Andrew Green CLASSICAL MUSIC)

Book Description

A stunning new voice reminiscent of Maggie O'Farrell, which has been acclaimed by John Banville, Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 16 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a carefully crafted debut novel set in Northern Ireland. The time period switches between 1949 and 1969 and focuses on the lives of Katherine and George Bedford. They are an ordinary couple who make a commitment in 1949. Twenty years later they have a young family of four to whom they are devoted.

They seem to be a good, decent Catholic family - George offers his services as a fireman after work to help with the increasing deterioration of the situation in Belfast whilst Katherine, despite her growing family, finds time to raise money for charity. However, truths from the past, and the jealousies and the lies told then come back to haunt their marriage. As peace in Belfast becomes only a distant dream, George, Katherine and their children grapple with their own very real problems.

This is a very well written novel. The Bedford family emerge so clearly from its pages with each and every character carefully defined. They are a very ordinary, loving family which has all the tensions associated with living as Catholics in a predominantly Protestant area. The writing has been described as `dreamy and intense' and certainly I found it had that haunting quality about it which lasted right to the last page.

This is a plot which shows how the past really lives on to affect the lives of those in the present, and how ordinary lives are affected by extraordinary events. If this scenario appeals to you then you are going to rate this debut novel very highly. However, be warned, it may not be very long but it's very hard to put this book down once you have started reading! Highly Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bluecashmere. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is always going to be difficult for this novel to live up to the razor-sharp realisation of the seal encounter in its opening pages. Nonetheless, the writing is beautifully lucid and sensitive to nuances of feeling throughout the book. The political background is in many ways all the more menacing for its relative unobtrusiveness, but it is against its mounting pressure that the lives of Katherine and George are lived out, and of course George's social role adds a significant strain to an already wavering relationship.

I wrote the heading before I discovered that the words conclude the blurb. Great minds and so forth................ It is, of course, obvious enough and the novel does merge the two largely successfully. My own feeling is that the political always remains subordinate to the personal and is none the worse for that. I suppose the book lacks the ambition to fuse the troubles and the domestic into a really potent statement but it is a rewarding read for all that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. P. Mankin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Nov 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This debut novel bodes well for the author;it certainly demonstrates considerable promise. The two periods - 1949 and 1969 - work well. This is a tribute to the author's skills as a writer. The characters are fully immersed in the two periods. This narrative approach often fails but not in this case. The author's prose is beautiful, engaging and evocative. This is a tenderly written story which you will find well worth the effort. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Jan 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Several of the comments from readers in her publishing house, refer to Forbes' writing as dreamy, dream-like. For me, it is the reverse. It is writing which awakens the slumbering reader from their soporific state, into noticing, into being present.

There came a point, fairly early in the book, when I suddenly sat up and said `Yes!'

The central character Katherine, a wife and mother of 4, is married to George, a dependable, good man. They live in Northern Ireland. It is 1969. This means some shattering events are just over the horizon.

The book opens with a small, alarming event, which unsettles Katherine enough to send her memory spooling back to an earlier time, 20 years ago, when she was a young woman with a beautiful operatic singing voice, and perhaps was at a major fork in her life's road. In 1949 George is already courting her, but she meets Tom, a far more volatile curious character who makes her feel dynamic, touched with glamour and vitality.

The shape of the book is to take us between the then of 1949 and the now of 1969 and see how that became this, and the intercutting structure allows the reader (like 1969 Katherine) to hold both.

My `Yes!' moment came at the recounting of a meeting in a café between Katherine and Tom

"The large doors leading into the tearooms from the foyer swung backwards and forwards as people bustled in and out. Nearby, a high-spirited couple chatted about a film they had just seen. Other people were looking out for the arrival of friends. Four young women sitting together chimed together like a carillon, their words ringing around them. One woman sat on her own just to the left of the doorway, every so often lifting her head to view those coming and going.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Freeburn on 10 Mar 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
From the opening pages of this stunning debut, in which we find Katherine in an encounter with a seal I was drawn in hook, line and sinker.

This is an extraordinarily rich piece of work that features extensive use of symbolism and metaphor and beautiful characterisation, particularly in the case of the main character, someone we really feel we’ve lived a life with.

It’s set in Northern Ireland in two periods of time, firstly in 1949 as Katherine is preparing for a role in Carmen and then in 1969 when she’s been long since married to George Bedford. When she takes up the role in Carmen she embarks on a relationship with her tailor, Tom McKinley, and the outcome of this is something that haunts the rest of the narrative.

Belfast is of course a very different place in 1969 and the book plays out against the background of trouble flaring up in the city. There’s some particularly disheartening moments involving the children as we see the impact of the sectarian divide and the unravelling the city.

It’s a book about many aspects of love and the memory of a period of time reverberating throughout a lifetime and it makes for a hugely assured debut that shows incredible vision.
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