Irish Fiction


In the cold dawn of Christmas Day 1897, Gilbert Rice, 85-years-old and in failing health, recounts his journey into manhood in a city on the cusp of great change. Belfast in the 1830s was a city in flux. Industrialisation had led to an increase in population as workers flocked to the newly created jobs. Gilbert, a young man with prospects, begins work with the Ballast Office, supervising Belfast Port. But in the course of his days – and nights – abroad in the town, Gilbert becomes aware of tensions old and new. When he meets Maria, a Polish exile from Russian persecution, he is drawn into a love affair that will drive him to an act that could change his life, and the town’s, for ever.


About the author 

Glenn Patterson is the author of seven previous novels and a memoir Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times. He has written plays for Radio 3 and Radio 4 and is the co-writer of Good Vibrations (BBC Films), based on the life of Belfast punk impresario Terri Hooley, which is due for release in 2012. A collection of his journalism, for among others the Guardian, Sunday Times and Irish Times, was published in 2006 as Lapsed Protestant. He lives in Belfast.


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