The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
by Brian Moore, afterword by Mary Gordon
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and circumstance. First published in 1955, it marked Brian Moore as a major figure in English literature (he would go on to be short-listed three times for the Booker Prize) and established him as an astute chronicler of the human soul.
Judith Hearne is an unmarried woman of a certain age who has come down in society. She has few skills and is full of the prejudices and pieties of her genteel Belfast upbringing. But Judith has a secret life. And she is just one heartbreak away from revealing it to the world.
Set in Belfast in the early 1950s, Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is not a kind book, no, but it is utterly transfixing.... By the end of this truly brilliant, shocking novel, a story peopled by characters who make your skin crawl, the impossible has occurred: The reader both understands and feels compassion for a really awful woman.
—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe
Moore is surely one of the most versatile and compelling novelists writing today.
I can't think of another living male novelist who writes about women with such sympathy and understanding.
—Times Literary Supplement
Remarkable...seldom in modern fiction has any character been revealed so completely or been made to seem so poignantly real.
—The New York Times
A harrowing tour de force.
—New Statesman and Nation
A powerful haunting story by a young Irish-Canadian who knows the meaning not only of loneliness, but that of compassion as well.
—The New York Times
A penetrating, comic, tragic tale of a plain woman…It is a novel that occasionally sings with the lilt of the Irish greats.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Moore has absolute control over his narrative, and Judith Hearne's descent is both excruciating and enthralling.
— Anne Enright in O, The Oprah Magazine