2007: 74. Shade

“I know exactly when I died.  It was twenty past three on the fourteenth of January of the year nineteen fifty, an afternoon of bright unseasonable sunlight above a whipping wind that scurried the white clouds through the blue sky above me and gave the Irish sea beyond more than it  than its normal share of white horses.”

Shade, Neil Jordan

I bought this book on a total whim - I was in Barnes & Noble looking for something to read on my trip to Seattle, when the cover (which is absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion) caught my eye.  When I read the back (which referenced the Great War - i.e. screamed, “buy me, Carrie!”), and the striking first sentence (quoted above), I was sold.  The fact that Jordan is a famous film director made me a little wary, but he writes his films*, too, so I figured it was ok.  It’s not like it was written by Michael Bay.

I am glad I did - this is a grand book.  Cinematic in the best way - the scenes were vivid like a movie.  Maybe even extra vivid, like a Douglas Sirk movie (or, you know, Far From Heaven).  Set in Ireland in the first half of this century, it is narrated by Nina, after she’s been brutally murdered by her handyman/childhood friend, George.  The book slowly goes back and forth between her present (i.e. 1950, and the immediate aftermath of her murder) and her past, leading you to understand why she died as she did).  It is a poignantly sad book, and a greatly enjoyable one, if you like that sort of thing.  A melodrama, perhaps, but one with true emotions.  Nina is an unforgettable character, but all the characters are real and vivid.  I look forward to reading Jordan’s other books, and I would certainly watch a film of Shade.


*I.e. Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, The End of the Affair (well, I reckon he just wrote the adapted screenplay for that one.)


Recommended for:  People who like melancholy but emotionally vivid stories; people interested in Irish stories; people who liked Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, but didn’t like the horrible emotional manipulation


Date/Place Completed: 5/29/07, Seattle 

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017