TITLE: GHOST LIGHT
AUTHOR: JOSEPH O'CONNOR
This is the fictionalized story of the affair between Molly Allgood (Maire O'Neill), a young actress from Dublin's inner city tenements and the older playwright John M. Synge as remembered by Molly years later in 1952 while she walks the streets of London reduced to poverty and shortly before her death.
The story is told in fragments, as memories accost Molly. The love between her and the playwright, the difficulties caused by the differences in age, background and religion between the two of them. She remembers the love, the fights, the frustration she felt at his resistance to commitment.
Other memories take her to success in the theatre in Ireland, America and England. Brief mentions are made of her two marriages, one that ended with the death of her husband, the other in divorce, and of her sister Sarah who would become a successful actress in America.
Now with her career all but ended, poverty the main theme of her life and alcohol her constant but expensive companion, Molly's memories may not be the most trustworthy and her emotions take her from dizzying heights to depressing lows, but the love she shared with Synge is never in question in her heart or in her memories.
This was a very thoughtful book. It is also very literary; a book more about the words than the story I felt on several occasions. But maybe that's the way it should be when you're writing the story of one of the great Irish playwrights.
The reader should take his/her time with this book because hurrying across the pages will make you miss beautiful descriptions and emotions.
Not my favourite book by O'Connor. That honour still lies with "Star of the Sea", but definitely a book worth reading.
Finally, this is the third and, according to himself in an interview, the last novel by Joseph O'Connor based on real people and events. However, as the author warns the reader in the "Acknowledgements and Caveat", this is not a biography. Liberties have been taken with history in this book. This reader doesn't know enough about the subjects of this story to say whether those liberties are a good thing or not.