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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 9 May 2002
All Moore's books are worth reading (which is more than you can say of most authors) but this is his first and perhaps his best. If only more self-consciously artsy writers were forced to read this book before putting pen to paper ! In one line Moore can say more than most of the competition do in 10 pages. For a first novel it is almost unbelievably well written and darkly funny concerning the protagonist's hopeless attempts to hide her alcoholism.
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on 23 January 1999
I came across this as a result of reading Brian Moore's obituary. Written from Judith's perspective it is a thought provoking insight into loneliness and desperation. We have all experienced these emotions to some extent and whilst recognising how easy it is to succumb to them, Brian Moore has made it almost impossible to empathise with her or indeed any of the characters in the novel. A compulsive but comparatively quick read.
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on 7 November 2012
A very sad story but nevertheless one that needed written. Judith Hearne is a spinster who, like many others, lives a life of quiet desperation. Reading it is a salient lesson into the world of those, who through no real fault of their own, are left abandoned by society and the Church. The insight into the mind and life of Judith Hearne should make those who read it more grateful for the quality of their own lives and more compassionate towards those who are stuck in a place they don't wish to be with very little hope of getting out of it and few comforts wherewith to make it in anyway bearable.
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on 12 February 2014
A brilliant book. I’ve read it many times and each time I find something different in it. Brian Moore has managed to create a totally real person in the character of Judith Hearne. As we read, we feel with her and for her. I couldn’t recommend this book more highly. Incidentally, I prefer the old Penguin version with the plain cover – much better to picture Judith from the writing alone.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 October 2010
In a sense an agonising book to read, I was struck by how reluctant I was come to a conclusion about my feelings about this book. This was Brian Moore's debut novel and its subject is a spinster - a plain woman with very few friends, who takes a room in a boarding house where breakfast is the only meal provided. The other guests are skilfully sketched in, and prove to be an unfriendly lot until the brother of the landlady turns up and gets the idea that he and Judy Hearne might go into business together. Judith thinks he is paying her attention because he is interested in her, but he isn't, beyond what she might have in the bank.

Some parts of this book are superbly realised - her struggle with faith, her rages against the God, who refuses to help her in a literal sense with her doubts and fears and the terrible incomprehension of the priest from whom she seeks help. Some of the dialogue on the other hand, is too literal, too controlled and the uneasy alliance between the two men who have an interest in the servant girl in the household is, for me, unrealistic; likewise the plotting of the landlady's son in order to be rid of his uncle - too much of this and the situation begins to unravel at the seams. One begins to find people repulsive and the tenor and tone of the novel veers towards melodrama. I think Brian Moore wrote much better books than this, despite early claims that this one showed unique insight into a woman's mind. I'm inclined to believe that such claims were premature.

Much better books by Moore are: The Doctor's Wife (Paladin Books) and The Statement.
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on 13 February 2015
What I loved about this book was the clear insight into every character's mind - not just the main character. Their perception of her was so at odds with what she felt they thought. You may hate the idea of a woman being regarded as a spinster on the shelf but that's how women were viewed then. Such a wonderful story and truly amazing writing - a real classic. I love a story that makes me think and stays with me and this did.
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on 19 June 2014
I love Brian Moore: he can give the idea of the character's feelings and thoughts and he is great in revealing all the easy hypocrisy of catholic faith which is also the problem of all dogmas & religious faiths.
I like his language, so typical of the Irish people of the area and time. He photographs the situation in such a real way.
He is a great writer. I would recommend this reading to anyone.
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on 16 April 2013
An all to familiar story, we all know of a Judith Hearne, all to often an anonymous individual inhibited by religious dogma and meaningless social convention destined to live a life without fulfilment, the Catholic church quite properly doesn't come out unscathed in what is a remarkable insight into the life of a woman many readers will recognise.
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on 17 January 2016
This is a surprisingy gripping read considering how little real action or plot there is. The main character is so realistically portrayed and her emotions and empty life so clearly shown that the reader can't help wanting to know about her, despite being aware that were we to meet her we'd probaly want to get away as quickly as possible.
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on 10 March 2014
This was recommended by American-UK writer Scott Bradfield. Fabulous read, and helped me with my own novel-writing too. In my copy, there are also insightful "extras" from Brian Moore. When he wrote this, he was quite lonely living in a caravan, but don't expect something miserable... there is plenty of humour.
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