The Temptation of Eileen Hughes Hardcover – 1 Jun 1981
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This is the most amazing book . . . [Moore's] characters are piercingly real, his scenes supercharged with emotional intensity, lurking evil, and threatened innocence. "Chicago Sun-Times on Brian Moore"
[Moore] is my favorite living novelist. Each new book of his is unpredictable, dangerous, and amusing. He treats the novel as a tamer treats a wild beast. "Graham Greene on Brian Moore"
Of all our present novelists he is for me the one whose books most immediately evoke and touch my private feelings and fears. "Christopher Ricks, New Statesman on Brian Moore""
"This is the most amazing book . . . [Moore's] characters are piercingly real, his scenes supercharged with emotional intensity, lurking evil, and threatened innocence." --Chicago Sun-Times on Brian Moore
"[Moore] is my favorite living novelist. Each new book of his is unpredictable, dangerous, and amusing. He treats the novel as a tamer treats a wild beast." --Graham Greene on Brian Moore
"Of all our present novelists he is for me the one whose books most immediately evoke and touch my private feelings and fears." --Christopher Ricks, New Statesman on Brian Moore--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Eileen Hughes is young, hauntingly beautiful and very naïve. Befriended by her wealthy employers, Bernard and Mona McAuley, she leaves Ulster for the first time in her life to spend a holiday with them in London. But all is not well with the McAuleys, and, in her bewildering innocence, Eileen fails to see the perilous vulnerability of her position until it is almost too late…
A psychological masterpiece filled with passion and suspense, 'The Temptation of Eileen Hughes' is a stunning exploration of obsession and morality.
'No other Life, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, Black Robe' and many other novels by Brian Moore are available in Flamingo.
'Brian Moore is surely one of the most versatile and compelling novelists writing today.'
'I cannot think of another living male novelist who writes about women with such sympathy and understanding.'
TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
'The book is on fire, and goes on burning in one's memory.'
NEW YORK TIMES
'Moore is a brilliant storyteller, a novelist of great subtlety and depth.'
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
Top customer reviews
Both of the male characters of this book are fairly unbelievable. Bernard once planned to be a priest and lived in a monastery for a time, before marrying Mona. His longing for Eileen Hughes is like a longing for his own innocence to be returned to him. His behaviour with Eileen is impeccable, until he sees her with a young American man who has befriended her after she offers to babysit in the hotel for his friends. After this things take a more histrionic turn. The American guy is like something out of a comic book.
I am a great admirer of Brian Moore's work - he is a remarkable writer who writes equally well about both sexes though here it is the female characters who are realistically developed, and Bernard, who remains, for me, shrouded by awkward motives. I thought this was not really up with the best of his books, but in spite of its failures, still very readable.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
If so, our noses may lead us astray, because the actual facts turn out to be quite a bit more complex. This book was suggested to me in connection with Ford Madox Ford's 1913 novel THE GOOD SOLDIER, another book in which the roles of adulterers, victims, and enablers become vertiginously confused. The power that the rich couple exert over Eileen also put me in mind of Ian McEwan's THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS, published in the same year (1981). But Moore's novel is simpler than either of those, less Byzantine than the one, less baroque than the other. It is especially the simplicity of Eileen's voice that is so attractive -- with an added bonus for me that both she and the McAuleys speak with the familiar rhythms of my own Northern Irish childhood.
Bernard McAuley is an interesting character, a university man turned to commerce, a reader and autodidact, and an abortive candidate for the priesthood. It may also be significant that he is by far the richest Catholic in his country town, living in an exclusive neighborhood among wealthy Protestants. One feels that, beneath the surface of the story, Brian Moore is possibly saying something about ethnicity and class (things to which I am attuned as an Ulsterman myself) and almost certainly about religion; there is the strong suggestion that Bernard's pursuit of Eileen is not so different from his former pursuit of God. But these themes never quite come into focus, and a number of other characters are introduced later in the book (a young American pot-head being one of the less convincing) who drive the action towards its climax but blur the deeper meanings.
But Eileen's own trajectory is always clear: excitement, anxiety, disillusion, and disgust passing though hard experience to new-found strength. It remains the chief satisfaction of reading this sensitive book.
The temptation of Eileen Hughes is told from her perspective, even though it is narrated in the third person. Eileen has been working as an assistant to a young, extremely wealthy woman barely older than herself, Mona McAuley. Eileen appears to be Mona's protégé. She has been working in Mona's shop, and over the past several months, has been slowly promoted to a position of some authority and is apparently destined to be Mona's second in command. When Mona and her husband Bernard go on vacation to England, Eileen is invited to company them, apparently on Mona's whim. As the novel begins, the trio have just arrived in England and Bernard is displeased that Eileen has to stay in a small maid's room, because of a mix up over their reservations . Only as the novel unfolds do we realize that it is Bernard who is infatuated with Eileen, and who has forced Mona to invite Eileen to join them, much to Mona's dissatisfaction. Brian is an elusive but interesting individual and we learn about him slowly, but never completely and always filtered through the prism of Eileen's perspective. At the beginning of the novel, she knows him only distantly, as Mona's successful husband -- the richest man in town, the owner of a prominent business, the only Catholic in an exclusive residential neighborhood in Lismore and sporting the requisite exquisitely beautiful young trophy wife.
Before long, we learn the reasons for Mona's displeasure over Eileen's presence on the trip. For Mona has her own agenda. We learn that Brian has not had conjugal relations with Mona in a long time, apparently seeking satisfaction in masturbation alone in his own room, surrounded by his books and work. This has resulted, on an earlier occasion, in Mona having an affair with someone in Lismore. Despite their sexual incompatibilities, Mona is completely under Bernard's control for economic reasons. Bernard finds the possibility of scandal resulting from Mona's affairs within their own town unacceptable, and the couple have come to tacit agreement that she will conduct her affairs only when to away from Ireland on their business and vacation trips. Eileen witnesses Mona's sexual escapades early and is appalled by them.
The husband Brian is an ascetic, withdrawn from people aside from his business contacts. He is obsessed with religion and we learn that before returning home to his father's business, he had sought to join the seminary and the priesthood. He has had a nervous breakdown in his search of God. In one of his anguished speeches to Eileen towards the middle of the book, he accuses her of spurning him just as God had done earlier. His return to settle down into the mundane business of making money has clearly been a hiatus in his grander quest. Something in Eileen's beauty, purity and innocence triggers his more profound and deeply ingrained spiritual quest. He merely seeks to adore her, to construct a new, grand house as a shrine to her and to worship her from a far. He has not meant to reveal to her his infatuation with her. However, on one of their trips to a grand house in London, she tells them how wonderful it might be to live in a grand house such as the one they have just visited. This causes him to blurt out to her his own plans of building her a large house where he, Mona and she can live together. The surprised and distracted Eileen thinks to herself that this is the kind of declaration that she would like to hear her from some boy her own age, not this man old enough to be her father. The innocent, inexperienced and unsophisticated Eileen does not realize that Bernard's feelings for her are not ones that could be expected from a boy her own age. His longing for her is not sexual, it is of a neurotic nature, and it is the displaced passion of the religious fanatic. Later, Eileen appreciates the level of despair that Bernard must feel, to realize that the object of his adoration does not reciprocate his passion even an iota. This appreciation makes her go looking for him and finds him in what could well be his second attempt at suicide. Her refusal has caused Bernard to slide into a depressive episode similar to one that he has clearly experienced on earlier occasion. Eileen and her transient and somewhat ludicrous American boyfriend save him. The anguished longing that Brian feels for Eileen is in stark contrast to the superficial but far more successful interest that the American young man feels for her. For him Eileen is a beautiful young woman suitable for a quake romp in the hay. He seduction of Eileen is both comical and highly unrealistic. We had been told that Eileen is 20 years old and has never had boyfriend or any sexual experience. And yet, her very first sexual experience is so casual and her seduction by this young American she has met for the very first time so effortless that it causes the reader to question the plausibility of the whole sequence.
When the Temptation of Eileen Hughes first appeared, it was reviewed as one of Brian Moore's lesser works. In a review in the New York Times Book supplement, Joyce Carol Oates suggested that anyone introducing himself or herself to the Brian Moore ouvre should choose a more profound book than this. More recent overviews of the Brian Moore canon in the London Times book supplement barely mention the Temptation of Eileen Hughes in passing, noting its structural defects. There is little doubt but that there are problems with this book. For one, the book is told from the viewpoint of the least interesting character. Eileen, apart from her apparent innocence and great beauty, has little if any personality. Her reflections and thoughts are banal and her resistance to the temptations offered by her rich patrons appears to be based more on a childlike obstinacy than any deeply felt philosophical or principled point of view...