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Moore, Brian.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1988. 245pp, paper, $5.95, ISBN 0-7710-9992-4. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Donna Doyle

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

Brian Moore, winner of two Governor General Awards for fiction, wrote The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne in 1955. It was made into a successful movie in 1987 and has been reprinted.

Poor, plain Judith is unpacking in her shabby bed-sitting room in a run-down area of Belfast. She sets up a photograph of her aunt and wishes to hang a coloured oleograph of the Sacred Heart. She has no hammer. Throughout the story we see Judith turn to others for what she lacks. Her life is an ordeal of accommodating—her aunt, her religion, her poverty, her friends. She rations bits of food for survival just as she rations bits of conversation which may amuse her friends and pay them for a moment's warmth.

James Madden takes an interest in Judith. She believes her prayers have been answered. The relationship begins in the boarding-house atmosphere, a cold, mean place with poor food and no privacy. A crushing revelation about Mr. Madden drives Judith to despair. She discards lifelong beliefs and seeks salvation in alcohol.

The characters are painfully real, the setting uncomfortably accurate. Brian Moore, unlike the landlady, serves a generous portion which may even need a second reading to fully digest. An excellent story on the human condition.

Donna Doyle, D'Escousse, N.S.
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