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The Heather Blazing Paperback – March 1, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Irish novelist Toibin offers a profound study of the emotional paralysis which grips a Dublin High Court Judge and his family.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Scholarly, aloof Eamon Redmond became a judge in Dublin's high court at a relatively young age after a lonely childhood. His meticulously constructed judgments adhere so strictly to the letter of the law that room for appeal is impossible. But what of compassion? Why do his wife and children turn their backs on his decisions? This novel is more a character study than the action-packed tale suggested by the title. The narrative leapfrogs from past to present as Redmond, the motherless boy, plods along with his father, listening to tales of earlier uprisings. His happiest times, as both man and boy, come when he is swimming or walking along the southern Irish coast. When his wife of many years dies and he is truly alone, solitude is no longer the prize he once sought. Toibin ( The South , LJ 7/91) has a subtle way of ensnaring the reader into Redmond's life. Recommended for serious fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/92.
- Marion Hanscom, Binghamton Univ. Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; unknown edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140175326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140175325
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Kirkus Reviews blurb reprinted above is absolutely foolish. This is a magnificent novel, but one which, as Tobias Wolff has said, "repays attention", i.e., one must be willing to give oneself over to Toibin's deceptively simple prose. The cummulative affect of the chapters, as a picture of a life, is devastatingly poignant, but this poignance will only come through careful attention. A quiet masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
The Heather Blazing by Colm Toibin is a deeply emotional, deeply moving book. It's the story of Eamon Redmond, a complex man, grown on tender roots, influential friends, a keen intellect and a tangible distance between himself and those whom he loves.

The book is set in three parts, each of which dips in and out of time. We are with Eamon as a child in the small Wexford seaside villages he forever regards as home. Coastal erosion changes them over time and provides, in itself, a metaphor of aging, both of the individual and the community. Eamon's schoolteacher father is a significant figure, both locally as a renowned teacher, and nationally as a result of what he accomplished in his youth in the furtherance of Irish independence and political development. Eamon's mother died when he was young, an act for which, perhaps, he could never forgive her.

We also see Eamon as an adolescent, hormones abuzz, becoming aware of adulthood, a physical, intellectual and, for him, a political transformation. But it is also a time when his father's illness complicates his life. Throughout, we are never sure whether Eamon's perception of such difficulty remains primarily selfish, driven by self-interest. If we are honest, none of us knows how that equation works out.

We are with Eamon when he meets Carmel, his future and only wife. They share a political commitment and a life together. And they have two children. Naimh becomes pregnant at a crucial time. Donal is successful in his own way, but perhaps inherited his father's distance in relationships.

And then there's another time and another Eamon, the professional, the legal Eamon. At first he practices law, but later, at a relatively early age, he accepts a politically-driven appointment to the judiciary.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't really like Judge Eamon Redmond until I was almost through with this book. He certainly didn't show much emotion at all through most of the story. However, my whole attitude and judgement of him changed so much by the end of this engrossing story. When Eamon was very young he stood by silently and passively watching his father die (his mother was already dead), and then when he was older and a well-respected Judge, he watched as his wife Carmel die after having a stroke. Both of these dead's and there influence on Eamon's life are minutely detailed here. Eamon seems to be an intense and very lonely person. Yes, there is some attention given to his first girlfriend, and his children (who barely know their father) but the turning point, I think, is after Carmel dies. I think Eamon finally finds his heart, and the love he was too busy to recognize before. The ending is wonderful.
Colm Toibin has a way of beautifully describing family life and especially the landscape of Ireland. I learned a lot about Irish politics of that time, and how a judge makes his important decisions. A well-crafted novel from an author who has written many powerful books. I am always touched by his rich & moving novels.
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Format: Paperback
This is a bittersweet tale about life. It has a quite northern-latitude-temperament. The style of the writer is somehow particular, but its hard to point out, what particular it is which is making out his style. Colm's story is sensitive and he dwells upon heavy existential subjects, like your parents are dead or the death of a loved one. Eventhough I sense this book has qualities I must admit that I am not quite sure if this book relates particularly to me. But I think I will read it a second time. By the way, to get a fuller experience of this book, you should properly drink red wine as you read it. Often during the account the sea plays a part, and there is something interesting about that. You also feel the experiences and emotions of the writer quite close. The story seems private and intimate. You are in his head, heart, body and eyes.
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Format: Paperback
On the last day of the legal term, High Court judge Eamon Redmond will deliver a judgement and then head off for the summer to Cush on the coast of County Wexford, where he has spent all his summers since childhood. Outwardly he is a successful man, well respected in the country, an advisor to the government, and someone who takes the responsibility of his position seriously. But he is also reserved, his life ruled by order, and somewhat remote even from his closest family. As the summer progresses, he finds events in the present force him to revisit and re-assess his past.

Like so many of Tóibín's books, this is almost entirely a character study with very little in the way of plot. Generally speaking, that doesn't work for me, but Tóibín's deceptively plain prose and in-depth understanding of the people and communities he's writing about exert an almost hypnotic effect on me, drawing me into the lives of the people he offers up for inspection – characters so entirely real and well-drawn that it becomes hard after a time to think of them as in any way fictional. This effect is magnified by his siting of so many of his novels in and around the town of Enniscorthy, where Tóibín himself grew up – a place whose culture and society I have gradually come to feel I understand almost as intimately as my own hometown.

History plays a major role in this book, both personal and political. An only child, Eamon's mother died in childbirth leaving him to be brought up by his father and extended family. His grandfather was involved in the 1916 Easter Rising and his father too played a part, albeit small, in the troubled history of the country.
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