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The heather blazing [Unknown Binding]

Colm Tibn
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (1992)
  • ASIN: B0006DHIO2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,640,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize and Brooklyn which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Costa Novel Award, and an earlier collection of stories, Mothers and Sons.

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First Sentence
EAMON REDMOND stood at the window looking down at the river which was deep brown after days of rain. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deeply emotional, deeply moving book 25 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback
The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin is a deeply emotional, deeply moving book. It's the story of Eamon Redmond, a complex man, grown on tender roots, influential friends, a keen intellect and a tangible distance between himself and those whom he loves.

The book is set in three parts, each of which dips in and out of time. We are with Eamon as a child in the small Wexford seaside villages he forever regards as home. Coastal erosion changes them over time and provides, in itself, a metaphor of aging, both of the individual and the community. Eamon's schoolteacher father is a significant figure, both locally as a renowned teacher, and nationally as a result of what he accomplished in his youth in the furtherance of Irish independence and political development. Eamon's mother died when he was young, an act for which, perhaps, he could never forgive her.

We also see Eamon as an adolescent, hormones abuzz, becoming aware of adulthood, a physical, intellectual and, for him, a political transformation. But it is also a time when his father's illness complicates his life. Throughout, we are never sure whether Eamon's perception of such difficulty remains primarily selfish, driven by self-interest. If we are honest, none of us knows how that equation works out.

We are with Eamon when he meets Carmel, his future and only wife. They share a political commitment and a life together. And they have two children. Naimh becomes pregnant at a crucial time. Donal is successful in his own way, but perhaps inherited his father's distance in relationships.

And then there's another time and another Eamon, the professional, the legal Eamon. At first he practices law, but later, at a relatively early age, he accepts a politically-driven appointment to the judiciary.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
It was the evocative title of The Heather Blazing that drew me towards it, having read and not particularly liked Toibin's earlier novel, The South. The story can be summarized in a few words...it is just selected elements from the past and present of the protagonist's life, mainly focusing on time spent on holidays in rural Ireland, away from his high profile Dublin life as a judge. The important characters in Eamon's life are introduced- his wife, daughter, son, father, uncles and aunts- and his relationship with these people is left, to a certain extent, up to the reader to decide. His love of the sea and enjoyment of nature is at odds with his relationships with the other main characters-his wife, daughter, son, father and uncles and aunts. The struggle of these people to understand him is seen by the reader and the wish that he would share more surfaces many times during the book. I recommended this book to a book club and read it with several different nationalities. The "Irishness" of the book is apparent but this seems to be taken in a good way and also has universal appeal. Much has been written elsewhere about Toibin's sparse style and I felt that in this book in particular, the reader is left filled with a longing for more, in the best possible way. Some scenes, described perhaps in one paragraph stay in my mind as though pages were devoted to developing them. In a book where character is driving the story rather than plot, one moves towards the conclusion not sure what to expect. It is fitting that, like life, the ending is uncertain, leaving the reader once more to take the information and make his/her own decision.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece 28 Mar 2008
Format:Paperback
One of my favourite novels. Along only with John McGahern, Toibin writes the most beautifully economical prose that I have read. If you have read The Master, prior to reading this work it comes as a surprise. The Master is utterly different in terms of writing style, very ornate and precise reflecting perhaps its subject matter Henry James. The narrative here alternates simply with each chapter from flashback to present day. The protagonist is Eamon Redmond, a judge of the High Court. Eamon's reminiscences of some of the pivotal moments of his childhood in Wexford and his sexual awakening are masterfully executed and the "segues" back to the present day events, perfectly timed. Even Toibin's portrayal of the Judge's intellectual struggles with some of his cases, are wonderfully detailed and to me at least seem very accurate. The book deals with the Judges' regret, his own realisation of his distant and cold nature (having its origins in profound grief and loss experienced in childhood and a deep-seated feeling of his own worthlessness) his inability to properly express - or perhaps feel wholly feel - love towards his wife and finally, it hints at a possibility of redemption for him. This is all done with a prose style that is starkly beautiful in its simplicity but seems effortless at the same time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colm Toibin is irresistable 6 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
'The Burning Heather' is written in Colm Toibin's spare syle. He does not clutter his work with unnecessary words, but each word is chosen to tell a compelling story. I literally didn't put it down until it was finished. This book helped bring back the habit of reading regularly. I went to the library and got several more of his books. I would recommend The Blackwater Lightship.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Living through loss
I love Toibins writing style and this book is one of his best. An Irish High Court judge who has learnt to suppress his emotions due to the loss of his mother in early childhood... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Novelblue
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking!
Brilliant writing. Toiben was able to show the reader how the events that impacted on the main character as a child shaped his behaviour and interation with those closed to him... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Out of pocket
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heather Blazing
I got this at a discounted price and found it an excellent novel. It takes you through different periods of a high court judge's life. Both personal, political and professional. Read more
Published on 31 Oct 2011 by Mr. H. Hyman
3.0 out of 5 stars A picture of Irish life
Colm Toibin has a 'gentle' style in this novel; characters are drawn deftly and adroitly; ditto places. I can just imagine Cush and the fast-eroding cliffs. Read more
Published on 16 April 2011 by G. D. Busby
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes time but ultimately interesting
I almost abandoned this book after the first 50 pages because it was so dry. It takes a lot of getting into and is in reality a portrait of just one man - the judge - with his... Read more
Published on 5 Sep 2010 by Ann E
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle read
This is a quiet, thoughtful book in which you can follow the life forming experiences of the main character. It is beautifully descriptive and a pleasure to read.
Published on 26 Jun 2010 by Peony332
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