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Ghost Moth [Kindle Edition]

Michèle Forbes
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
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Book Description

Irish Book Awards Shortlist
Library Journal Best Indie Fiction of the Year
Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book Staff Pick
Concord Monitor/Concord Insider Book of the Week
Chatelaine magazine Book Club selection
Brooklyn Book Festival Best Debut Book

Ghost Moth is an impressive debut by a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings.” —JOHN BANVILLE, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light

“Clever, unpredictable, beautifully written and crafted.” —RODDY DOYLE, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Commitments

“[Forbes’] writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it.” —ANNE ENRIGHT, Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering and The Forgotten Waltz

During the hot Irish summer of 1969, tensions rise in Belfast where Katherine, a former actress, and George, a firefighter, struggle to keep buried secrets from destroying their marriage. As Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists clash during the “Troubles” and Northern Ireland moves to the brink of civil war, the lines between private anguish and public outrage disintegrate. An exploration of memory, childhood, illicit love, and loss, Ghost Moth is an exceptional tale about a family—and a country—seeking freedom from ghosts of the past.

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michèle Forbes is an award-winning theater, television, and film actress who has toured worldwide with The Great Hunger and Dancing at Lughnasa. She studied literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has worked as a literary reviewer for the Irish Times. Her short stories have received both the Bryan MacMahon and the Michael McLaverty Awards. She lives near Dalkey, Dublin with her husband and two children. Ghost Moth is her first novel.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Forbes’ debut novel is set in two eras—Belfast at the 1969 advent of the IRA’s campaign to get Great Britain out of Northern Ireland and in post-WWII 1949—and depicts the life of Katherine from early young adulthood through marriage and motherhood. The novel begins with the idyllic, if deceptive, picture of a loving marriage and stable family life on a rare day at the beach. A shattering argument between Katherine and her husband, George Bellows, ends the day, revealing layers of stress beneath a serene surface. As the story unfolds, readers will revel in the skillful writing: parallel narratives slowly reveal the secrets that both bind and separate husband and wife. The complex plot maintains suspense and reader interest as well as framing the deterioration of the marriage. Strong characterization presents a fully developed family, not just revealing Katherine and George but also all four children. Lyrical descriptions create a believable contrast, depicting Belfast in very different historical eras. Genre fans (Irish-history buffs, family-story readers, historical-fiction enthusiasts) will enjoy this novel, while its stylistic richness and narrative intricacy will also please readers of literary fiction. Highly recommended. --Ellen Loughran


Clever, unpredictable, beautifully written and crafted - Ghost Moth stayed with me for a long time after I'd finished reading the final, sad, wonderful page -- Roddy Doyle Deeply - sometimes erotically - charged. The writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it...Katherine Bedford - so ordinary and so passionate - is a heroine to treasure -- Anne Enright An impressive debut by a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings. We shall be hearing a great deal more from Michele Forbes -- John Banville A bountiful river of lovely images, fresh and perfect, a triumphant story both familiar and strange. A stellar debut -- Sebastian Barry This beautifully written first novel is about the kind of love that can never be blotted out... a tender, heartbreaking story about choices made and secrets kept too long -- Kate Saunders THE TIMES An impressively sure-footed debut, lyrical and contemplative in equal measure THE MAIL ON SUNDAY A delicate and unusual endeavour to write about ordinary people in a way that is so realistic that it almost reads like memoir. The passages evoking Katherine's children are outstanding. The meditations on maternal and marital love verge on the profound. And the ending will bring a lump to your throat. -- Claire Kilroy THE GUARDIAN Michele Forbes' startlingly assured debut has already won praise from those giants of Irish literature John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, and rightly so... Lyrical and at times almost unbearably tender (the final scenes between Katherine and George will break your heart), Forbes delicately captures the echoes of history that pierce the present -- Jane Clinton SUNDAY EXPRESS This moving story is beautifully written, with powerful imagery and prose that becomes quite mesmerising at times. An astonishingly accomplished debut by actress-turned-author Forbes, this haunting novel will linger in your mind -- Deidre O'Brien SUNDAY MIRROR I was thoroughly caught up in this beautifully written debut novel. Set in Northern Ireland, in 1949 Katherine must choose between George Bedford and Tom McKinley. What happened that summer will haunt Katherine and George 20 years later, when they try to save their marriage. -- Fanny Blake WOMAN & HOME Before this amazingly assured and beautifully executed first novel, Belfast-born Forbes worked as an actor, and this shows how seamlessly a performer can morph into a creator... Forbes is intelligent, humorous and occasionally heartbreaking; a very safe bet for the next round of literary prizes SAGA Eloquently written and full of lyrical descriptions, Ghost Moth shines a light on everyday lives and offers the reader some unforgettable characters CHOICE Forbes, who has already won major awards for her short stories, knows how to write - her prose is unfailingly elegant - her images are often arresting... the book confirms its author as an exceptional talent -- John Boland BELFAST TELEGRAPH Ghost Moth takes place during the Troubles, but it is far from just another book about them. Lyrical and beautifully written, it uses the outbreak of the Protestant/Catholic struggles and IRA bombings in the Sixties as a backdrop, but it is more of a character study and riveting family drama - concerned with the secrets, lies and hidden torments between those one is closest to, and the heartbreak of lost love. THE BOOKSELLER A beautifully written debut. Confident and lyrical. Michele Forbes is a name to watch IRISH EXAMINER Quiet tragedy in the ordinary lives of real human beings... Michele Forbes' first novel has been heaped with praise and rightly so... as the book proceeds, it darkens, vividly evoking the divisions and bitterness that erupt with the onset of the Troubles. IRISH INDEPENDENT Forbes' writing possesses a stealthy power, and her patient layering of the story results in a surprising emotional impact by the time the final page is turned. THE LIST Ghost Moth, Michele Forbes' exquisitely written debut, handles love, loss and silence with a delicate, nuanced touch... From its striking opening sequence to its heartrending closing passage, Forbes' novel is beautifully expressed, so accomplished that it's hard to believe that it's her first -- Susan Osborne It isn't often that a book makes me cry; makes me experience a deep anguish that the characters have spent their lives living with a painful regret that taints everything they do, blotting out the joy they should be experiencing in the present moment; leaves a tiny fragment of itself inside me to ponder over. Michele Forbes's debut novel, Ghost Moth, is such a book... Ghost Moth is beautifully written with descriptive, engaging prose rich with symbolism and metaphor that places the reader in the moment with exactness and great skill -- Julie Fisher A subtle, passionate story of private grief set against public crisis Forbes Magazine A very promising debut novel with flashes of brilliance and a poetic heart...a deeply moving examination of the minutiae of everyday life The intensely lyrical Ghost in part a meditation on differing forms of love...The 'ghost moth' of the title flutters through the novel, alighting on various pages. As Katherine explains to her daughter, 'Some people believed that ghost moths were the souls of the dead waiting to be caught.' In this affecting portrait of lost love and a lost city, Forbes catches those souls beautifully THE SPECTATOR The author expertly maps the routines of family life an domesticity in ways both romantic and familiar. The scenes in which Katerine enjoys the company of her four young children during the summer holidays are delightful... It is to the author's credit that this book, so carefully contextualized as it is, never feels like a glib denunciation of The Troubles TLS An evocative sense of time and place, flawed characters and some hauntingly lyrical prose - this book delivers at every level... for a debut novel, it's outstanding NEWBOOKS MAGAZINE Ghost Moth is very good. It's beautifully written... Forbes has a lightness of touch. Her dialogue is superb. -- Thomas Quinn THE BIG ISSUE Forbes' writing is exquisite. Everything you read is suffused through with meaning. From the opening scene of Katherine staring the seal in the face to the very end with Elsa, there is a hidden depth to everything. It's difficult to believe this is a debut novel - Forbes seems like she's an old pro at the form. For those who want to see how a novel should be done, Ghost Moth is a worthy read. It's as good inside as the cover makes it look. -- Sarah Shaffi A serious-minded novel (novella really) which treats a familiar and quintessential human predicament with poetry, sensitivity and no little skill, not least in including a magical and unexpected coda over which hovers the eponymous Ghost Moth -- Andrew Green CLASSICAL MUSIC

Product Details

  • File Size: 393 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press (March 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00APD9U5S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,249 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ordinary life: Always far above the ordinary January 26, 2014
Several of the comments from readers in her publishing house, refer to Forbes' writing as dreamy, dream-like. For me, it is the reverse. It is writing which awakens the slumbering reader from their soporific state, into noticing, into being present.

There came a point, fairly early in the book, when I suddenly sat up and said `Yes!'

The central character Katherine, a wife and mother of 4, is married to George, a dependable, good man. They live in Northern Ireland. It is 1969. This means some shattering events are just over the horizon.

The book opens with a small, alarming event, which unsettles Katherine enough to send her memory spooling back to an earlier time, 20 years ago, when she was a young woman with a beautiful operatic singing voice, and perhaps was at a major fork in her life's road. In 1949 George is already courting her, but she meets Tom, a far more volatile curious character who makes her feel dynamic, touched with glamour and vitality.

The shape of the book is to take us between the then of 1949 and the now of 1969 and see how that became this, and the intercutting structure allows the reader (like 1969 Katherine) to hold both.

My `Yes!' moment came at the recounting of a meeting in a café between Katherine and Tom

"The large doors leading into the tearooms from the foyer swung backwards and forwards as people bustled in and out. Nearby, a high-spirited couple chatted about a film they had just seen. Other people were looking out for the arrival of friends. Four young women sitting together chimed together like a carillon, their words ringing around them. One woman sat on her own just to the left of the doorway, every so often lifting her head to view those coming and going.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Emerging talent June 11, 2013
There are two strands and two subjects that run through Michèle Forbes' Ghost Moth. On their own, neither are particularly new or in any way exceptional - one is related to a romantic misadventure in 1949, the other to the beginning of the Troubles in Belfast in 1969, but the way in which they are brought together with some beautiful poetic observations in the writing gives additional resonance to both. Some of the attempts writing perhaps feels a little over-worked in places, but there are also moments of remarkable insight here.

Remarkably, and not the least obviously, it's an encounter with a seal while swimming at the seaside with her family that precipitates the crisis that has been waiting twenty years to catch up with Katherine Bedford. Married to George with four children, in a mixed Catholic/Protestant marriage that is beginning to encounter difficulties associated with the sectarian violence breaking out with greater ferocity on the streets of Belfast, the reality and the foundations of her marriage are somehow shaken by the encounter. It brings to mind a young tailor, Tom, who Katherine was seeing in 1949 during costume fittings for an opera production of Carmen at the same time as she was engaged to George. The affair ended badly and has left a deep impression on Katherine even if its impact hasn't been fully acknowledged.

The same kind of originality of its view on several familiar subjects is evident throughout Ghost Moth, and in many ways the sense of the Troubles making their way to the surface in Northern Ireland expresses some of Katherine's repressed sentiments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Haunting Quality About the Writing October 16, 2013
This is a carefully crafted debut novel set in Northern Ireland. The time period switches between 1949 and 1969 and focuses on the lives of Katherine and George Bedford. They are an ordinary couple who make a commitment in 1949. Twenty years later they have a young family of four to whom they are devoted.

They seem to be a good, decent Catholic family – George offers his services as a fireman after work to help with the increasing deterioration of the situation in Belfast whilst Katherine, despite her growing family, finds time to raise money for charity. However, truths from the past, and the jealousies and the lies told then come back to haunt their marriage. As peace in Belfast becomes only a distant dream, George, Katherine and their children grapple with their own very real problems.

This is a very well written novel. The Bedford family emerge so clearly from its pages with each and every character carefully defined. They are a very ordinary, loving family which has all the tensions associated with living as Catholics in a predominantly Protestant area. The writing has been described as ‘dreamy and intense’ and certainly I found it had that haunting quality about it which lasted right to the last page.

This is a plot which shows how the past really lives on to affect the lives of those in the present, and how ordinary lives are affected by extraordinary events. If this scenario appeals to you then you are going to rate this debut novel very highly. However, be warned, it may not be very long but it’s very hard to put this book down once you have started reading! Highly Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book and thought provoking
I thought the book was beautifully written and the story was intriguing . The book lead to a lively discussion for our book club which can't be said of all the books we have... Read more
Published 11 months ago by mary cusack
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written
makes you think about the choices that you make in life and how those choices affect those you love most.
Published 13 months ago by deborah farley
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Story!
Ghost Moth, Michele Forbes debut novel, is not only beautifully written but heartbreakingly mesmerizing. The story haunted me for days once finished. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Wendy Catalano
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story
Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes is an excellent story. The tragedy of Katherine's lost love, her settlement for a life with George and her eventual death from cancer are partially... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Guy Allen
3.0 out of 5 stars Babs
A book not easy to put down. A sad story full of surprises. The characters deep thoughts are shared with the reader throughout the story. A little to sad for me.
Published 15 months ago by Babs
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, hard to read for an expat northern Irelander
I lived in Northern Ireland during the time the story was written. Of the sectarian distrist and dislike is very very true. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Eric the bee
4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy Irish Tale
This is a family saga of deception and missed opportunities alternating between 1949 and 1969. While I liked it, I didn't love it, and found it somewhat "forgettable". Read more
Published 21 months ago by Denise K. Maguire
4.0 out of 5 stars You can taste the salt in the air!
Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes

When Michele write of a day at the beach, you feel the sand in your shorts, the tingle of sunburn and the thrill of open water. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Cat Shannon
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More About the Author

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michèle Forbes is an award-winning theater, television, and film actress who has toured worldwide with The Great Hunger and Dancing at Lughnasa. She studied literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has worked as a literary reviewer for the Irish Times. Her short stories have received both the Bryan MacMahon and the Michael McLaverty Awards. She lives near Dalkey, Dublin with her husband and two children. Ghost Moth is her first novel.

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