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Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Little Red Chairs" by Edna O'Brien


In the diminishing light of a winter evening thick with frost, a dark-coated stranger arrives in an Irish town. His business card presents him as Dr. Vladimir Dragan, Healer and Sex Therapist.

No one checks his references.

“Dr. Vlad” claims “his part of the world” to be Montenegro. He does not say Bosnia. He does not say Sarajevo. If he had, the good people of Cloonaila might have been more alert. More inclined to inquire.

“Tis an honour to have you Sir,” says Dara, from behind the bar in the town pub.

In this, he is mistaken.

The doctor is careful; the village hospitable. Before long, he has established a place for himself. He will wait until they come to him. And they do. For Fidelma McBride, who comes too close, entwining herself in an affair where few questions are asked, the consequences will be harrowing when the doctor’s true history is revealed.

Estranged from her husband, self-exiled from Cloonaila, Fidelma becomes one of the people she only read of in the papers; homeless “people in predicaments, migrants with babes in arms fleeing atrocities and heading for nowhere.” In time, she will be stronger, able to face the remorseless man who shattered her life, and the lives of thousands of others in an unfathomable “smorgasbord of crime.”

In The Little Red Chairs, award-winning novelist and memoirist Edna O’Brien traces Fidelma’s fragile course from among the “footsore and weary, craving the valleys and small instances of mercy” to a tentative hold on life, where, one day, “hope and grievance” may be reconciled.

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