If Joseph O'Connor was inspired by the theory that Bram Stoker based Dracula on his boss Henry Irving, then it's a delightful surprise that SHADOWPLAY became something even richer and stranger. Filled with eye-popping set pieces (Irving leaping into the audience as a rabid Hamlet, a bonkers cameo by black-teethed Oscar Wilde) and absurdly delicious dialogue, SHADOWPLAY succeeds far beyond its original premise. It plays perfectly to the cheap seats and boxes, raising from Stoker's frustrated life a host of themes: literary ambition, gothic horror, gender fluidity, Irishness, and the always-more-interesting drama occurring backstage.— From Steve's Picks
WINNER: NOVEL OF THE YEAR, An Irish Post Book Awards
A Five Books Best Historical Fiction Book of 2020
Henry Irving is Victorian London's most celebrated actor and theater impresario. He has introduced groundbreaking ideas to the theater, bringing to the stage performances that are spectacular, shocking, and always entertaining. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Bram Stoker to manage it. As Irving's theater grows in reputation and financial solvency, he lures to his company of mummers the century's most beloved actress, the dazzlingly talented leading lady Ellen Terry, who nightly casts a spell not only on her audiences but also on Stoker and Irving both.Bram Stoker's extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum Theatre, his early morning walks on the streets of a London terrorized by a serial killer, his long, tempestuous relationship with Irving, and the closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspire him to write DRACULA, the most iconic and best-selling supernatural tale ever published. A magnificent portrait both of lamp-lit London and of lives and loves enacted on the stage, Shadowplay's rich prose, incomparable storytelling, and vivid characters will linger in readers' hearts and minds for many years.
"Funny, smart, tender, wise."--Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon
"Joseph O'Connor's magnificent novel does even more than fly, it soars."--Michael Dirda, The Washington PostFINALIST 2019 COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR,
FINALIST 2020 DALKEY LITERARY AWARD, 2020 WALTER SCOTT PRIZE
About the Author
Joseph O'Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of nine novels, two collections of short stories, and a number of bestselling works of non-fiction. He has also written film scripts and radio and stage-plays. His novel Star of the Sea was an international bestseller, selling more than a million copies and being published in 38 languages. It won France's Prix Millepages, Italy's Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Nielsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year. In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. He holds an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin, and received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. He lives in Ireland and is the Inaugural Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.