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The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (New York Review Books Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Brian Moore , Mary Gordon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and circumstance. First published in 1955, it marked Brian Moore as a major figure in English literature (he would go on to be short-listed three times for the Booker Prize) and established him as an astute chronicler of the human soul.

Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world.

Editorial Reviews


“A powerful haunting story by a young Irish-Canadian who knows the meaning not only of loneliness, but that of compassion as well.”
New York Times

From the Publisher

'Moore is surely one of the most versatile and compelling novelists writing today.' Daily Telegraph

Brian Moore's extraordinary talent was immediately recognised when The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, his debut novel, won the Authors' Club First Novel Award. A highly-acclaimed film based on the novel was recently made, starring Maggie Smith.

'I can't think of another living male novelist who writes about women with such sympathy and understanding.' Times Literary Supplement

'Remarkable... seldom in modern fiction has any character been revealed so completely or been made to seem so poignantly real.' New York Times

'An almost classic example of the power given by unity of theme... Mr Moore reveals all the qualities of a born novelist.' Sunday Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 407 KB
  • Print Length: 282 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0771061358
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (August 17, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WLMI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,187 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A woman imprisoned by the passage of time. February 27, 2002
After cranking out a string of pot-boiler thrillers, Judith Hearne was Moore's debut venture into the world of the serious novel. Here he sought to depict the epic, cosmic conflicts that are under the surface of the most seemingly ordinary of lives. He set it squarely in 1950's Belfast, where he was raised as one of the Catholic minority. He hated Belfast, calling it a "claustrophobic, provincial backwater... trapped in the nightmare of history" and plagued equally with Protestant self-righteousness and Catholic repressiveness. All of these sentiments find their way into this, his first literary novel.
Judith, convent-raised, unmarried, and forty-something moves into Mrs. Rice's boarding house on Camden Street. It is her sixth relocation in the last few years. We find out WHY later. She teaches piano and embroidery to an ever diminishing handful of students, has very few possessions, and fewer social attachments. In fact, her only social involvement is tea with the O'Neill family on Sunday afternoons. Only later do we find how one-sided even this relationship is. The O'Neills secretly dread her visits.
We are soon to sense the brooding cloud of narrowness, plainness, loneliness, and ignorance that hovers over this poor soul. Moore captures it. Even her physical frame, he says, is "plain as a cheap clothes rack."
To sustain herself she lives in a world of religious faith and imagination... or illusion. She daydreams, and surrounds herself with iconic totems from her uneventful past. And she has a secret vice that isn't revealed until almost midway in the novel. She's a(n) _____! (I won't say).
The novel revolves around Judith's interactions with the many other residents of Mrs. Rice's home.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading June 30, 2007
This slender novel is a master class in fiction writing. I've read it at least ten times, and every time I learn something new. Mr. Moore's command of fictional technique is astonishing. He uses the basic elements of the craft (point of view, narrative voice, recurring details, etc.) like brushstrokes in a painting. Bit by bit, sentence by sentence, Judith Hearne and the people around her are revealed. The plot moves forward with the inevitability of a Greek tragedy, and when the climax comes, we are devastated. We know everything there is to know about this plain, brave, flawed woman, and we know that things could not have turned out otherwise for her.

In addition to its flawless execution, this book reveals an almost unbearable depth of compassion for human weakness and a keen understanding of human nature. While Judith Hearne may seem to belong very much to a particular time and place, we should not be so quick to label the book a period piece. We are still struggling to connect to each other, to find love and security, to reconcile faith and fact. Mr. Moore's themes are timeless. As long as there are human beings, Judith Hearne will have something to teach them. Her story gives us much to mourn about who (and what) we are, but in revealing her to us, Mr. Moore also gives us much to celebrate.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Please read it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor Judy Hearne February 3, 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Brian Moore published The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (originally called simply Judith Hearne), in 1955 after he had left Belfast for Montreal. For this book Moore won the Author's Club First Novel Award. The book appears on the Guardian's list of 1000 books 'everyone must read'. A 1988 movie of the same name starred Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins. Graham Greene called Moore his 'favourite living novelist'.

Moore plumbs the turbid soul of a desperately lonely woman who's on the verge of becoming an old spinster. She's done in by the repressive mores of her culture, which she has internalized and of which she's largely uncritical. (Moore based Hearne loosely on one of his mother's friends, Mary Judith Keogh.) The other character whose thoughts are probed at length is James Madden, Hearne's last chance at a husband. He, too, has outlived his dreams and, like Hearne, drifts though his days in fear and frustration, which are relieved only by vices that promise short-term relief but long-term doom.

Moore's story is marred by some heavy-handed symbols (an empty church, e.g.), and I grew impatient with the protracted torments to which the author subjected poor Judy Hearne. Nevertheless, the book is a masterful and disturbing study of the demolition of a life by loneliness.

Hearne seeks refuge from her isolation in weekly visits with a happy and prosperous family whose patriarch she has known since childhood. She half knows that the family members generally dread her visits, but she goes to them anyway out of sheer desperation for human contact. These portions of the book are pretty painful, for Moore makes it clear that the family members don't take Hearne seriously as a person. They treat her more as an ongoing bad joke.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful display of the disappointed.... January 22, 1998
By A Customer
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearn is probably one of the most beautiful books in contempory Irish literature. Brian Moore treats Judy Hearn with a completely unbiased nature; he is definitely in touch with the character's values, and her flaws. Moore has shaped a novel of his time and Ireland's people that will probably influence many for years to come.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Eleanor Rigby" of literature
A classic. Harrowing tale of alcoholism. Equally devastating on Irish Catholicism. Not for anyone looking for a cheery tale. Awful but wonderfully done.
Published 19 days ago by Diana
3.0 out of 5 stars A good discussion book for book group
I actually wasn't thrilled with this book although it was well written. I didn't really indentify with the character and it was pretty depressing. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ellbee
3.0 out of 5 stars Very reminiscent of much Irish literature
This book reminded me soooo much of a short story by another Irish author, named Moore who wrote Home Sickness. Read more
Published 11 months ago by libra peacemaker
4.0 out of 5 stars Andrew Prior reading about world angst
A very well written book by a perceptive and observant man. I wasn't sure whether he was a sad man, filled with the angst of the world, and decided to read another of his novels to... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Andrew Prior
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Great Book!
Set in 1950's Belfast, The Lonely Passion of Miss Judith Hearne was originally published in 1922, and was even made into a movie in 1987. Read more
Published 17 months ago by My2Cents
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting
Brian Moore has written a haunting, poignant novel about the loneliness of Judith Hearne, whose thin facade of gentility masks a wounded soul searching for a connection to other... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Pat
5.0 out of 5 stars Life without hope
The Northern Irishman Brian Moore wrote JUDITH HEARNE when he was only twenty-seven. The first of his novels to be published under his own name (his other published works had been... Read more
Published on July 18, 2012 by Jay Dickson
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad life
I saw the movie first then read the book. They are both excellent. This is what you do not want to become in your mid-to-old age-- lonely & a drunk. Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by Sunflower HW
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an engrossing portrait of a sad life.
I think the book would have been even better if the author had used a little more empathy. He portrays the protagonist from an ironic distance and though you're made to feel sorry... Read more
Published on October 25, 2011 by Miles
5.0 out of 5 stars A Belfast Tragedy
Having just read and largely disliked one novel (Joseph O'Connor's GHOST LIGHT) about an aging Irishwoman facing the disintegration of her life, is it not a kind of masochism to... Read more
Published on February 8, 2011 by Roger Brunyate
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