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Red Flowers, at a Wedding?

Tessa Hadley: Claire Keegan, 24 January 2008

Walk the Blue Fields 
by Claire Keegan.
Faber, 163 pp., £10.99, May 2007, 978 0 571 23306 9
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... In the title story of Claire Keegan’s second collection, Walk the Blue Fields, a priest is officiating at a wedding in rural Ireland: the bride is late, the organist has to play the Bach toccata twice, ‘a thrill of doubt’ is ‘spreading through the pews’. She turns up eventually, and the ceremony goes off all right, but an intimation of trouble has been set reverberating in the reader from the very first sentence: ‘Earlier, the women came with flowers, each one a deeper shade of red ...

Hats One Dreamed about

Tessa Hadley: Rereading Bowen, 20 February 2020

Collected Stories 
by Elizabeth Bowen.
Everyman, 904 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 84159 392 0
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... the despoiling of a young girl’s first love, which seems to look forward to Edna O’Brien or Claire Keegan. Barbie is living one summer with her uncle, in a sensual dream of happiness, in love with him without knowing it. He sends her to pay a visit to his neighbour, a thwarted, fascinating, clever woman his own age, who also wants him; in a few ...

She gives me partridges

Bee Wilson: Alma Mahler, 5 November 2015

Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Donald Arthur.
Northeastern, 360 pp., £29, May 2015, 978 1 55553 789 0
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... title is taken from the famous swirling Kokoschka painting of himself in bed with Alma – Susanne Keegan presented Alma’s anti-Semitism as tangential to her personality: a ‘tasteless’ aberration. Keegan noted that she had many Jewish friends and treated Jewish men such as Schönberg and Mahler as ‘honorary ...

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