Review: Ghost Moth by Michèle Forbes
In her evocative debut novel Ghost Moth, Michèle Forbes transports readers back in time to Ireland in the late 1960s. Set against the rich backdrop of what is commonly referred to as The Troubles, a turbulent time in Northern Ireland’s history, Forbes tells the story of a family battling their own personal demons. Although the novel touches upon the themes of religious intolerance and extremist violence, Forbes doesn’t allow her narrative to get bogged down by historical references and factual events. Indeed, what makes Ghost Moth such a compelling read is the individual characters themselves, specifically the heroine of the novel, Katherine Bedford.
When Katherine nearly drowns during a family outing to the beach, she comes face to face with her own mortality, and from then on begins to examine the choices that have led her up to this very moment. Suddenly, Katherine’s imperfect marriage is no longer something that she can hide from, and as she works to rebuild her relationship with her husband George, Katherine is forced to confront past misdeeds and to administer to old wounds that have never fully healed. Another notable character in the novel is Katherine’s youngest daughter Elsa, to whom the author often devotes large chunks of the narrative, detailing her innocent musings and trials of adolescence. Through Elsa, Forbes offers readers a wholly unique and startlingly insightful perspective to the events unfolding in the Bedford household and in the surrounding neighborhood, where tensions run high between Protestant and Catholic families. Despite their differences in age, Elsa and Katherine prove to be equally powerful characters that anyone who reads this novel will take an immediate liking to.
Nonetheless, Katherine is the novel’s driving force, and it is her inability to detach herself from the past and live fully in the present that creates the central conflict in Ghost Moth. Forbes’s hauntingly poignant account of Katherine’s life—her childhood, her brief stint as an opera singer, and her love affairs—breathe life into this fictional character. As literary heroines go, Katherine is quite ordinary; nonetheless, Forbes paints a vast and colorful tapestry of a life that is anything but. Ghost Moth is more than just a story of a woman torn between two men; it is a novel that anyone who has ever experienced a crisis of faith can identify with.
Forbes’s unique voice and distinct writing style, which can only be described as poetic, are two of the other main attractions of this novel. From the beginning, the novel draws readers in through the author’s blend of romanticism and realism. Forbes writes with an eloquence and innate penchant for storytelling that set her apart from others in her profession, and also make Ghost Moth a thoroughly enjoyable read.
For more information, or to purchase a copy, please visit Bellevue Literary Press’s website.
April 16, 2013
Trade Paperback Original
Posted: Jun 25, 2013
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