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Ghost Moth

by Michèle Forbes

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9325257,221 (3.82)7
As tensions rise between the Catholic Republicans and the Protestant Loyalists in 1969 Belfast, Katherine, a former actress who is gravely ill, and George, a firefighter, keep secrets from each other in order to save their marriage.

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A debut novel that takes place during 1969 with flashbacks to 1949. Beautiful lyrical writing at times. I was astounded at how viscerally I felt the northern Ireland conflict the terror that pushed against the fringe of this story, this sad story, of love and loss.

It is a universal truth that Catholics need to confess to relieve their guilt. It is also a universal truth that you do not confess your indisgression to your newly wed husband on your honeymoon!!

The characters were under developed which made them not entirely likable or relatable. Katherine was a total mystery as the protagonist.

Good twist at end. Sad as hell, but one never suspects it and it is surprising. ( )
  Alphawoman | Dec 20, 2017 |
The story opens with a woman, Katherine, who when swimming out of her depth encounters a seal. What begins as an encounter with nature becomes something more chilling, hinting at the depths of the story about to be told.
“…it is his eyes – the eyes of this wild animal – that terrify Katherine the most; huge, opaque and overbold, they hold on her like the lustrous black-egged eyes of a ruined man.” Katherine’s fear when encountering the seal is a mystery until much later in the book, when we understand the memories it disturbed.
‘Ghost Moth’ by Michèle Forbes is the story of Katherine and George, the beginnings of their love in 1949 and its endurance until death in 1969. The setting is Belfast: in 1949, post-War when Katherine sings Carmen in a local opera production and meets Tom, the tailor who sews her costume and flirts with her. Tom, who forces Katherine to examine the nature of her feelings for boyfriend George. Tom, who tempts her so she can never forget him. And Belfast, wrought by The Troubles in 1969 when even Katherine’s small children are challenged on the street for being of the ‘wrong’ religion. Katherine cannot forget Tom.
The novel examines the nature of love set against a city in 1969 where hatred is demonstrated every day on the streets with burning buses and ransacked shops. Can love ever be forgotten? Should young love be allowed to affect a marriage, years later? And is it better to tell the truth when the truth hurts, or protect your loved one by remaining silent?
In 1949, Katherine and Tom share quiet moments together as he makes her Carmen costume. Katherine forgets her new fiancé, George, in the eroticism of Tom taking a measuring-tape to her body. He describes to her how he will construct her dress. “I’ll insert the bone through the aperture of the casing, sliding it firmly upward all the way to the top of the seam. I’ll draw the bone back just a little, if I need to, so that it won’t force the material. The spring of the bone must always be right.” Compared with this sensuality, volunteer fireman George is a pale alternative.
But one night, before the night’s performance of Carmen begins, something happens which changes the lives of this love triangle.
The title of the book refers to the pale moths which Katherine’s father told her: “…that some people believed that ghost moths were the souls of the dead waiting to be caught, and some people believed that they were only moths.” For me, the double symbolism of the romantic moths and chilling seal was too much. Just one of them would suffice. I think I prefer the seal.
Read more of my book reviews at my blog http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Nov 12, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What started out as a good read turned into a never ending tale of depressing stories within the story. How much horror can one person have in her life? How much horror can one person touch on every other person in her life? Maybe if this were a biography there could be some interest in studying a pathetic soul, but this was fiction. Why bother? Ok what can I say on the positive? Really easy and thank god, fast to read. If you're contemplating suicide and want some help to get you go pull the trigger then this is the book for you. On the other hand, if you have a friend who tends to depressive mood swings and has periods of instability, then please make sure he/she avoids this book. ( )
  rayski | Dec 1, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Well I am not an English Major but I seen that Roddy Doyle commented on this book and I read Paddy Clarke HA,HA,HA and what I can say is at least the storyline in Ghost moth didn't put me to sleep... The story read okay though and I thought it was an pretty good over all. Forbes did a good job for a first book! ( )
  redheadish | Oct 17, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I know a book is really good when it leaves me grieving for hours after finishing it. I knew a few pages into chapter 2 that this book was going to be a tearjerker. And I was right! However, there were so many depressing and unpredictable layers, I ended up crying for completely unexpected reasons! I actually really like tearjerkers, so I did not mind the tears. It's a really raw and honest read--I can't believe it is Forbes's first novel. I hope she will be writing more.

I received a copy to review through Librarything, ( )
  sweans | Jul 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
For the most part, a steady lyricism propels this engaging story. The author deftly explores the private and public struggles of this particular Catholic family with vivid, poetic language.
added by ozzer | editThe Boston Globe, S. Kirk Walsh (Apr 16, 2013)
“A commanding debut, packed with genuine characters, telling its story with powerful control. Ghost Moth is a beautiful book, by a wonderful writer.”
added by blpbooks | editFrank McGuinness, twice Tony Award-nominated playwright of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award-winning play Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
“This slow burning tale is both guileless and deeply—sometimes erotically—charged. The writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it. Children, bees, milk, the sea, all are wonderfully rendered and alive on the page. Katherine Bedford—so ordinary and so passionate—is a heroine to treasure.”
added by blpbooks | editAnne Enright, Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering and The Forgotten Waltz
“Ghost Moth is 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 Michèle Forbes.”
added by blpbooks | editJohn Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light
“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.”
added by blpbooks | editRoddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Commitments
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As tensions rise between the Catholic Republicans and the Protestant Loyalists in 1969 Belfast, Katherine, a former actress who is gravely ill, and George, a firefighter, keep secrets from each other in order to save their marriage.

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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. In this emotionally acute debut novel, Michèle Forbes immerses the reader in a colorful tapestry of life. Throughout the book’s carefully woven story the bonds of family are tested and forgiveness is made possible through two parents’ indomitable love for their children.

An exploration of memory, childhood, illicit love, and loss, Ghost Moth portrays ordinary experiences as portals to rich internal landscapes: a summer fair held by children in a back yard garden exposes the pangs and confusion of a first crush; an amateur theatre production of Bizet’s Carmen hires a lonely tailor who puts so much careful attention into the creation of a costume for his lover that it’s as if his desire for her can be seen sewn into the fabric. All the while, Northern Ireland moves to the brink of civil war. As Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists clash during the “Troubles,” the lines between private anguish and public outrage disintegrate in this exceptional tale about a family—and a country—seeking freedom from ghosts of the past.
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