The Little Red Chairs | [Edna O'Brien]
A war criminal from the Balkan starts a new life as healer and sexual therapist in Ireland, of all places. Soon he starts having an affair and experiences some close calls with the authorities. Very engaging at first it started off well, leaving me wondering where the story would go and how the characters would be affected by the looming thread and the unknown of how the war criminal might adapt and change. There was a frequent change of focus between his story and that of some villagers, a perspective change between the characters that lost me soon, though.
I understand the point of this but I couldn’t settle and longed to skip forward to the next bit I was really interested in.Then the novel changed pace and the focus shifts again, which didn’t work for me.
We were now suddenly in London, in a different world, and with different characters bar one, yet, with flashed back to the original story. While all this serves to illustrate points of the often bleak message of the book, I found myself disappointed that the story had taken this direction. Yet, I was drawn into the second part eventually and some minor unnecessary characters aside, began to settle in again.
Juliet Stevenson gives a great performance as narrator with plenty of foreign accents pulled off believably.
I think the author has achieved some great things in this book and has affected me intensely. I would recommend the book but warn readers not to expect a smooth flow or classic story telling. It reads more like two disjointed parts that make sense together but only fitted somewhat awkwardly for me.
I see great talent here and hope the issues with the book were maybe just me and my expectations. It’s impossible, however, to dismiss the book or write it off. Very powerful.