by Caroline Blackwood, afterword by Andrew Solomon
Corrigan is at once a mordant comedy of manners and a very modern morality play. Since her husband's death, the increasingly frail Mrs. Blunt has had only her trips to his grave to look forward to. Her raucous housekeeper's conversation, and cooking, are best forgotten. Nadine, her daughter, is an infrequent, uneasy visitor. Then one day a charming, wheelchair-bound Irishman shows up at Mrs. Blunt's door in search of charitable contributions. Corrigan is an arch manipulator, Mrs. Blunt is his mark, and before long we realize that they are made for each other. As the two grow ever more entrenched, Nadine fears for her mother's safety (or is it for her own inheritance?).
With Corrigan Caroline Blackwood takes a long, hard look at our dearly beloved notions of saints and sinners, victims and villains, patrimony and present pleasure--and winks.
Caroline Blackwood combines a childlike neatness and exactitude of expression with an adult susceptibility to the charm of the unexpected and devious: an effective mix.
— The Times Literary Supplement
A fine creation—manic, at times demonic
— Penelope Lively, Sunday Telegraphy
Domesticity for Miss Blackwood has never been cozy; she listens for the ticking of the time bomb in the teapot.
— Carolyn Geiser, The New York Times Book Review
Funny, frightening and immensely enjoyable. The author writes with an appalled, amused intensity that is completely original but without a trace of pretentiousness. The result is unexpectedly powerful, like a box of chocolates with amphetamine centers.
— Francis Wyndham, Sunday Times (London)
One might say Blackwood practices a bullfighter's feint. The author waves a red cape at us, knowing we will charge at the wrong target. The best example of this approach is Corrigan. This 1984 novel is Blackwood's loveliest and most craftily assembled work of fiction and, strange to say, her sunniest, though the sunshine arrives late in the day and in an extremely perverse yet logical manner....There is a surprise lurking in its pages that overturns our understanding of what we've read about for a hundred pages or so, an enriching surprise that has been basking more or less in plain sight, but perhaps even more striking is the uncharacteristically wily optimism of Corrigan.
— Gary Indiana, Bookforum