House of Splendid Isolation

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House of Splendid Isolation is a 1994 novel by Irish novelist Edna O'Brien. The novel depicts the relations of an Irish Republican Army[which?] terrorist and his hostage, an elderly woman.[1] The novel blends an attempt at thriller, with O'Brien's deep exploration of Irish society.[1] Reception of the novel was not very good, especially in comparison to O'Brien's previous novels.


The New York Times gave a mediocre review calling the novel both "a brave book, and if it does not altogether succeed, [and an] attempt nonetheless [that] merits praise."[1] The review notes that the novel is a "dramatic departure" from O'Brien's typical novels, and in that context of experiment "we see her audacity fail and her elegant prose run badly out of control."[1] The Independent was decidedly negative, writing "there could hardly be a neater illustration of O'Brien's fatal humourlessness, and of the extent to which too much posing as a tragedy queen has turned her deaf to her own bathetic effects."[2]

Publisher's Weekly was slightly more positive, noting that the scenes about McGreevy the terrorist were unsuccessful, but describing the novel on a whole as "Powerful, however, is the elegiac voice on themes of womanly love, the tale's psychological acuity and the re-creation of a haunted landscape."[3] Kirkus Reviews describes it as successful, its "well worth reading as O'Brien's first concentrated treatment of the troubles--and the pain they visit on the Irish people."[4]


  1. ^ a b c d L'Heureux, John (June 26, 1994). "The Terrorist and the Lady". New York Times Review of Books.
  2. ^ "BOOK REVIEW / Tears and terror in the wind: 'House of Splendid". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  3. ^ "Fiction Book Review: House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O'Brien". Retrieved 2016-03-01.
  4. ^ "HOUSE OF SPLENDID ISOLATION by Edna OBrien | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2016-03-01.

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