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The Heather Blazing Paperback – 6 May 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (6 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330321250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330321259
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The novel is narrated dispassionately and with deceptive simplicity, moving between the public figure of the judge in his study and the terrible deaths of childhood... It is impossible to read Toibin without being moved, touched and finally changed' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

‘It is impossible to read Tóibín without being moved, touched and finally changed’ Independent on Sunday

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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