This is the story of Katherine Bedford. She is a wife and mother of four and the book starts with a look at her present life in Northern Ireland, 1969.
In her earlier years she was an opera singer with a local musical society in 1940's Belfast. While being fitted for her costume for a production of Carmen she meets a handsome tailor for whom she feels an immediate attraction. The only problem is, she has a long term boyfriend who she has agreed to marry. The novel is a combination of the early life of Catherine and brings the reader right up to date.
The intense desire that Katherine feels for Tom, her tailor, is so wonderfully described that the author makes you feel like you are actually in the room with them. Katherine is torn between loving this man or continuing down the path that she has already taken with her Fiancee, George. The expectation is that she will marry the kind, reliable and steady George but her heart is consumed by Tom.
The outcome of her decision is known from the beginning of the book and we get a glimpse of the struggle to keep her marriage alive while bearing witness to the angst of growing up as a Catholic child in 1960's Belfast, through the tales of Katherine's offspring. George is a reserve fireman and during The Troubles is called to many horrific scenes. But he also has his own cross to bear, a secret he has kept from Katherine for their whole married life. Katherine dreams of what could have been and this eats her up from the inside, out.
This is Michele Forbes debut novel and I can honestly say I am seriously jealous of her writing ability. Full of beautiful, heartfelt storytelling with a constant flow of gentle but acute prose, it is simply perfection. It is a work of art and although the story is slow and unravels at a leisurely pace , it is reminiscent of literary giants Anne Enright and Sebastian Barry. You would never know this was a debut novel , as the standard is so high. It is almost like a very long and very moving poem. The characters linger on with you well after you have finished the book and you may even be tempted to keep it close by, purely to pick up and read some of the wonderful prose again and again.
Ghost Moth is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and is widely available as paperback or e-book.
Distributed by Orion Books.