The Little Red Chairs Paperback – 2 June 2016
Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
Save Extra with 3 offers
- Bank Offer (9): 10% Instant Discount up to Rs. 1500 on minimum order of Rs. 5,000 with Citi Credit Card, Debit Card and EMI transactions. Here's how
- 10% Instant Discount up to Rs 1500 on minimum order of Rs. 5,000 with Kotak Bank Credit/Debit Cards and EMI transactions. Here's how
- 10% Instant Discount up to Rs. 250 on minimum order of Rs. 1,000 with RuPay Credit/Debit Cards and EMI transactions. Here's how
- 10% Instant Discount up to Rs 1500 on minimum order of Rs. 5,000 with ICICI Bank Credit Card and Credit Card EMI transactions. Here's how
- Bonus Offer on Citi/Kotak/ICICI Cards (except ICICI Debit): Additional Flat cashback of Rs.1,500 on single transaction worth Rs.30,000 & above as Amazon Pay Balance Here's how
- For Non-Prime members: Get 5% instant discount + 3% Reward Points with Amazon Pay ICICI Bank Credit Card Here's how
- 10% Instant Discount up to Rs. 750 on minimum order of Rs. 5,000 with ICICI Bank Debit Card and Debit Card EMI transactions. Here's how
- Prime Savings : Save 10% with Amazon Pay ICICI Bank Credit Card Here's how
- Bonus Offer on Amazon Pay ICICI Credit Card: Additional Flat cashback of Rs.750 on single transaction worth Rs.30,000 & above as Amazon Pay Balance Here's how
- No Cost EMI: Avail No Cost EMI on select cards for orders above ₹3000 Here's how
- Partner Offers (1): Shop and get a chance to win exciting cashback rewards every hour Click here to know more Here's how
More items to explore
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
About the Author
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter mobile phone number.
- Item Weight : 260 g
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 057131631X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571316311
- Product Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
- Publisher : Faber & Faber (2 June 2016)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Customers who bought this item also bought
Review this product
Top reviews from India
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The narrative opens in a little Irish town, where a mysterious alternative healer has arrived - Dr Vlad. Local woman Fidelma McBride, childless, married to a much older husband, falls in love - and sees an opportunity to have a much longed-for child. But only later does it come out that Dr Vlad is a war criminal, on the run from the former Yugoslavia, where he orchestrated horrific genocide...
(spoiler alert) As a consequence of her actions, Fidelma too becomes a migrant. Cast off by her husband and community, she finds herself living a very different life in London, working in menial jobs, sleeping in others' spare rooms, mixing with other immigrants at a local centre, where they tell their stories...
The author certainly brings home the horrors of genocide, war and brutality, but she writes from such a broad spectrum, characters whom we only meet briefly describing their experiences, that it somehow dilutes the emotion aroused in the reader.
Top reviews from other countries
It is no secret that this character is based on Dr Radovan Karadžić, "the Butcher of Bosnia", who worked as for 12 years under the name of Dr Dragan David Dabic, before being captured in Belgrade in 2008, charged with war crimes and taken to The Hague.
O’Brien describes the impact of ‘Dr Vlad’ on Cloonoila’s inhabitants and, in particular, on Fidela McBride who is caught in a childless marriage after two miscarriages; unable to communicate her needs to her much older husband [who ‘did the crosswords and then sat staring out, the pink of his scalp so scaly under the thinning white hair and his eyes had a kind of rebuke in them’] she begs Vlad to give her a baby and after some equivocation he agrees. Fidela gets her wish but must now pay dearly through the violence of former allies of Vlad’s. This is a particularly difficult scene to read.
The second and third parts see Fidelma moving to London and working as a night cleaner, at a home for retired greyhounds in Kent and partly as a penance, helping destitute immigrants. During this time she also travels to The Hague to attend the conclusion of Dr Vlad’s trial at the International Criminal Court. All the characters are beautifully described, including the gossipy inhabitants in Cloonoila, her landlady and refugees scarred by war and torture in London, and in The Netherlands, widows attending the trial, police and court officials.
The second part of the novel enables Fidela and the reader to gain first hand experiences of people who have been forced to flee their countries. Whilst this broadens the geographical extent of such misery and suffering, these characters and their voices do not linger. The author’s way with dialogue and use of imaginative sympathy maintain the momentum of this harrowing story.
The skill so evident in the first part is not quite carried over into the later parts of the book. The violence, both individual and group, is justified but not easy to read; Fidelma is violated, her enraged husband kills bats to relieve his frustration, personal recollections of killings, the formal accusations against Dr Vlad and his responses.
Amongst the inhuman atrocities, massacres, ethnic cleansing and razed homes and wrecked lives, O’Brien manages to insert sufficient humour to offer balance to her narrative, including visitations of Cloonoila’s inhabitants to see Dr Vlad, most notably when Sister Bonaventure submits to a nude massage with hot stones.
The contrasts are many – the battlefields of Bosnia and rural Ireland; the evil and manipulative Vlad and the innocent Fadima, individual suffering against ethnic cleansing, victims and perpetrators. Whilst the trial shows Vlad to be without contrition or acceptance of guilt for the killings of thousands of Bosnian Croats and Muslims, Fidelma is riddled with regret over betraying her husband.
The narrative has a dream-like element – after escaping across Europe, would Vlad really behave in a manner that would inevitably bring him to the attention of the authorities? Would the mentally-, physically- and emotionally abused Fidema at the end of part one be so recovered from her trauma as we see her in part two? The end of the book reunites husband and wife in a rather too convenient manner.
This story remains in the memory long after the final page but is a very fine novel rather than the author’s masterpiece.
By Edna Obrien
A stranger arrives in a village in Ireland. Charismatic and exotic, he sets himself up as a ‘healer’ and soon ingratiates himself with the villagers. One woman in particular, Fidelma, falls under his charm and her infatuation has devastating consequences. Her anguish and personal humiliation are made many times worse when she discovers his real identity. Although that identity is clear quite early in the novel it is the climax of Fidelma’s story.
In London she meets a collection of other traumatised and damaged people, and their stories and her own interweave.
I found the novel disturbing, awesome in the real sense of the word. It is thought provoking and has much to say about hatred, nationalism, violence, trust, victimhood and the interwoven nature of history. The subject matter makes it impossible to use the word ‘enjoy’ in connection with the reading of this book. This would be true even if all the characters were creations of the author, but here a ‘real’ person from recent history is placed at the centre of a fictional story, in a place he never visited.
I am left unsure whether the writer thinks that he was judged harshly, whether I am supposed to understand that he was simply the person in a particular place at a particular time and ultimately a victim of circumstance. Given the heightened emotional frenzy of a war situation are we supposed to conclude that the writer thinks that almost any man could have done what he did? Sadly, history shows how often this happens but by making the main character a real person she was forced to show him as he was at the end. Ordinary persons brutalised by the horror war are capable of atrocities. I believe it is overwhelming fear that causes them to lose all control and do whatever it takes to feel dominant. Once that barrier is passed they know, at some level that they have no right to expect any mercy should their enemies prevail and so the frenzy is fed. But normal people who survive that experience feel ashamed afterwards when they realise how far they have gone. Had a fictional person been the central character of the book it would have been possible to make him remorseful, a tormented soul wandering in search of redemption through the ancient texts he seemed to have studied and through helping others. That would have been a very different book. This man was unrepentant to the end, claiming he should have been hailed as a hero! His behaviour was not the result of frenzied patriotism, it was psychopathic. Did he believe his own propaganda or did he just want to escape responsibility for his crimes against humanity?
Despite the careful, skilfully crafted prose I found the book difficult to read. I was not charmed by the Beast at any point. I felt that I was being ‘set up’. Was the purpose of making him enigmatic and exotic, attractive to the ladies of the village, supposed to make it even more shocking when we found out who he was? It did not work, partly because there are too many clues, too soon, making the reader uneasy from the start about who he was. I found it more sickening than shocking.
I was shocked again by the horrors he was part of, and at myself for having ‘put away’ if not having actually forgotten this period. Perhaps having met some of his real victims was enough to make me too close to the history to engage with the story. The book seems to be a ‘ploy’ for looking at this period, the effects of absolute brutality on the survivors and an attempt to find a new perspective in order to diffuse our immediate prejudices and make us look again. But human nature makes it very hard to look closely and still find entertainment value in this story. We prefer to look away and pretend it has nothing to do with us! But by making the central character real the author has made them all ‘real’. Just as the little red chairs, laid out in the street to commemorate thousands of victims of a massacre are there to make them real.
It is written with her usual craft but ultimately I found the book to be lacking in empathy and difficult to read. There are some shockingly brutal episodes and the message is a bleak one.
But reading is a personal journey and a story that doesn't work for me will work perfectly for another reader.