The Little Red Chairs

The Little Red Chairs

by Edna O'Brien

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Overview

A fiercely beautiful novel about one woman's struggle to reclaim a life shattered by betrayal from the 2018 winner of the PEN/ Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

One night, in the dead of winter, a mysterious stranger arrives in the small Irish town of Cloonoila. Broodingly handsome, worldly, and charismatic, Dr. Vladimir Dragan is a poet, a self-proclaimed holistic healer, and a welcome disruption to the monotony of village life. Before long, the beautiful black-haired Fidelma McBride falls under his spell and, defying the shackles of wedlock and convention, turns to him to cure her of her deepest pains.

Then, one morning, the illusion is abruptly shattered. While en route to pay tribute at Yeats's grave, Dr. Vlad is arrested and revealed to be a notorious war criminal and mass murderer. The Cloonoila community is devastated by this revelation, and no one more than Fidelma, who is made to pay for her deviance and desire. In disgrace and utterly alone, she embarks on a journey that will bring both profound hardship and, ultimately, the prospect of redemption.

Moving from Ireland to London and then to The Hague, THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS is Edna O'Brien's first novel in ten years — a vivid and unflinching exploration of humanity's capacity for evil and artifice as well as the bravest kind of love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594900511
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 12/06/2016
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 141,025
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.87(d)

About the Author

Edna O'Brien is the author of The Country Girls trilogy, The Light of Evening, The Love Object, and many other acclaimed books. Born and raised in the west of Ireland, O'Brien has lived in London for many years.

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The Little Red Chairs 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intelligent and thought provoking novel based on the real life Beast of Bosnia . More importantly , it is the story of a woman's survival and ultimate redemption . Not light reading material but truly a unique book .
KarenEvans More than 1 year ago
Intense! Don’t read anything about this book besides the book itself. Skip the reviews (except this one) and definitely skip the dust jacket! Light a fire, grab a throw blanket, perhaps a glass of wine, and settle in for the long haul. Watch your world fade around you as you begin reading: on a cold, dark night a stranger appears in an Irish village… "On the 6th of April 2012, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, 11,541 red chairs were laid out in rows along the 800 meters of the Sarajevo high street. One empty chair for every Sarajevan killed during the 1,425 days of siege. Six hundred and forty-three small chairs represented the children killed by snipers and the heavy artillery fired from the surrounding mountains." This “read in one sitting” sort of a book and was delivered to me, signed, as the March pick for Parnassus’s First Edition Book Club!
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
The Little Red Chairs, Edna O’Brien, author; Juliet Stevenson, narrator In March, of 2016, Radovan Karadzik was sentenced to 40 years in prison for crimes against humanity by the United Nations Court in The Hague. He led the siege of Sarajevo, beginning in 1992 and continuing until 1995, in which thousands of Sarajevans were slaughtered by the Serbs. Karadzik, sometimes called the Butcher of Bosnia, is the very real person O’Brien has based her novel upon. Eluding capture for more than a decade, one of his alias identities was Dr. David Dragan. O’Brien makes use of that last name in her novel. In April of 2012, on the 20th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, thousands of empty chairs were laid out in the streets to commemorate the Sarajevan lives that were lost. The book takes its title from that event. The author has placed Karadzik in the person of a character named Dr. Vladimir Dragan, also known as Vuk, which means wolf and is a fearsome name. The novel is an account of the time in which he supposedly eluded arrest in the fictional town of Cloonoila, in Ireland. Disguised as a healer and sex therapist, sometimes playfully called Dr. Vlad, he was intelligent, understood human nature and was quite likeable. He carried about him an air of mystery and mysticism and exhibited an unusual knowledge of many things, like the qualities of certain plants and vegetables to benefit health and a knowledge of psychiatry which helped him analyze the needs of the people. His beautiful head of white hair and his full beard, coupled with his soft-spoken presence, made him attractive to the women. One woman, Fidelma, was especially drawn to him. She confided to him, in one of their conversations, that she dearly wanted a child. The story of their relationship and its aftermath was a difficult part of the story to read, but it is used to explain, graphically, how violent and brutal the war experience was for the ordinary citizens of Sarajevo. Myths and legends and poetry embellish the tale. Although it takes place in the present time, there is a feeling of the past pervading the story and the location of the events is often hazy. It took me awhile to figure out that part of it was in Ireland and part in England. Perhaps it was because of the allusions to Dracula and Transylvania, and a bit of the occult, that I was distracted and believed it was taking place in European countries with a more fabled history. I found the story interesting mostly in its lyrical and descriptive presentation which was sometimes mesmerizing, owing also to the exceptional narration on the audio by Juliet Stevenson. I felt as if I was in the actual countryside observing the scenes. From some scenes, I actually wanted to avert my eyes. It was through the experiences related by many of the witnesses and victims, as they exposed the violence and brutality that had been inflicted upon them and their families during the siege, that the story truly plays out and Dragan’s (Karadzik’s) arrogant and cruel personality is imagined and presented. At times, the number of characters was overwhelming, and at other times, the story did not knit as well together as possible, leaving odd threads hanging about, making it a bit disjointed. Still, it prompted me to do research on the beast in the book, and for that the author deserves much credit. Shining a light on a piece of history that is not known well enough is a worthy effort, even if it is in fictional form. When it is based on a true
Eleanorcowan More than 1 year ago
Noteworthy is that author, Edna O'Brien, dresses her main character, a deceptive sociopath, in priestly robes. Hiding his true identity in an Irish village, this mass murderer insists he is a Christian humanitarian - and continues his rampage of evil. The magnificent counterpoint is the evolution of the Irish woman he hurts, her growth into a powerful humanitarian and the decision Fidelma makes. Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
Good premise but choppy in parts. I agree with another reviewer that it felt like a first draft.
SherreyM More than 1 year ago
I have always read great reviews and heard laudatory praises for Edna O’Brien’s books and writing. Obviously, I picked up one to read, her latest The Little Red Chairs. In hindsight, I believe I should have picked up a previously published book instead. The Little Red Chairs left me feeling depressed, bereft, faux violated, diminished, forgotten, abandoned, and assaulted in every possible way imaginable. O’Brien seems to want us to see the atrocities done to the Bosnian people in and around Sarajevo. Her development of certain characters and scenes have the edge of a “feel good” sense when in fact the elements of hate and genocide are all around. The book was, for me, difficult to read. It read more like a first draft than a final manuscript. The choppiness of transitions and long narratives left me wanting to escape, likely much as the Bosnians wanted a change to escape. If that was O’Brien’s intent, she succeeded here. If I were to say more about the book, it would likely include spoilers. I do not feel writing a review with spoilers is fair. If you wish to read other readers’ opinions, visit the book’s listing on Goodreads. Here you’ll find a range of opinions.