The Little Red Chairs

Thoughts tlrcbyeob by Edna O’Brien, Hatchett Audio 2016, 9 hours 40 minutes

Narrated by Juliet Stevenson.

Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016, furniture category
Genre: Contemporary lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: I picked this one when looking for a TOB Long List audiobook and needed a furniture title for my WiaN challenge.

MOTIVATION for READING: Juliet Stevenson! TOB Long List! have always wanted to read an Edna O’Brien.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A war criminal attempts to escape his past and possible conviction as a war criminal for his treachery in the Bosnian-Serbian Conflict War and ‘hides’ in a small Irish town. He slowly and with charm, sells his services as a healer. A woman who yearns for a child but has suffered miscarriages becomes a client. I won’t say more.

WHAT’s GOOD: It is a global book, a questioning story. So many questions.

What’s NOT so good: Those red chairs… Symbols of our humanity or lack thereof? Too many characters – I got lost and wondered why some were there. Also, not Juliet’s best narrations but she is still one of the greats. I found her American accent flawed but it is only a quick conversation, a super minor character. And just mentioning this feels like I’m diminishing the whole tale and it is a sad one. Of course, reading the goodreads reviews, I see the range of ratings and I must say the one-star reviews are insightful and not ones I disagree with. I was moved and compelled – like watching a train wreck but worse because it is based on true war horrors probably. Don’t feel bad about skipping this. I really do want to read another by this author.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Brutal. On goodreads, I wrote:

This book just makes me want to crawl into the fetal position and sob. I don’t know what to rate it.

RATING:  fourpie


Ch 11 “… and the cheese straws, the pies and trifles she had left on the stairs for him to find…”


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10 thoughts on “The Little Red Chairs

    1. When I first read your comment, I was sad that you thought to skip this but then I remembered that I actually suggested it. Ooops. But yea, I think it had a few weaknesses and it really is brutal.

  1. I will only read this if it makes the TOB shortlist. Otherwise, I would be interested in reading other works from O’Brian, but the subject matter (war, brutality, war crimes) makes me want to skip this particular title if I can.

  2. aartichapati

    Ohmigosh, I understand the way a book can make you want to curl up in fetal position and cry.

    I think I read a lot of sad books in 2016. And ones that made me angry. Maybe this year I will give myself a bit of a break with some of the lighter mysteries and the like I have on my shelves and continue to ignore. I now feel guilty reading those as if they are a waste of time sometimes when there is so much of import to know, but at the same time, I also don’t want to just cry all the time.

    1. Balance, I think we all need to consider balance in our lives. And this makes me want to read Hope in the Dark for that speech about not giving in to despair.

      Don’t despair of wanting to read light fluffy funny feel good books, too! Balance… We all need laughter, love and light.

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