First published in 1983, this lyrical novel, superficially straightforward but full of stories within stories, first brought Bernard MacLaverty's work to public attention. In the novel, a young Irish Republican Army operative who wants to break the cycle of violence seeks out a woman whose Ulster policeman husband he helped to murder. As their relationship grows, so do Cal's guilt and sorrow, until, in the end, he is forced to make a sacrifice of himself in order to gain redemption. Rich in ideas and history, this book helps us understand the situation in Northern Ireland--which "is not just there," MacLaverty has remarked, "as a colorful background."
“It is a work in the classical tradition of the novel; and it has all the beauty and moral seriousness of the form at its best.” (Allan Massie)