TITLE & AUTHOR: The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
PUBLISHER: Faber & Faber
RELEASE DATE: 29 March 2016
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.
Vlad, a stranger from Eastern Europe masquerading as a healer, settles in a small Irish village where the locals fall under his spell. One woman, Fidelma McBride, becomes so enamoured that she begs him for a child. All that world is shattered when Vlad is arrested, and his identity as a war criminal is revealed.
Fidelma, disgraced, flees to England and seeks work among the other migrants displaced by wars and persecution. But it is not until she confronts him-her nemesis-at the tribunal in The Hague, that her physical and emotional journey reaches its breath-taking climax.
The town takes its name from the river.
WHAT I THOUGHT
The Little Red Chairs didn’t work for me. I found some elements of the plot original and interesting while other elements have been done to death. I really liked the idea of the charming stranger in the village being revealed as a war criminal, the Butcher of Sarajevo. I did like the fact he chose to start a new life in a small Irish village interesting. However, a mysterious stranger coming to a community and getting everyone all riled-up and treading on local toes is not particularly original. I just wasn’t impressed by this plot line. Fidelma’s infatuation with him is both amusing and creepy, almost unhinged at times. I have a strong stomach but there is some unnecessary violence in The Little Red Chairs that seems to serve no purpose other than being unpleasant. The novel is set in Ireland and predictably many of the characters are cartoonish caricatures of Irish people. Disappointingly, every Irish stereotype makes an appearance, sometimes in poor taste. I didn’t find any of the characters realistic or sympathetic, superficial for the most part. I really wouldn’t recommend The Little Red Chairs to anyone.