By Brian Moore
My mother still can't read this book. She says she knew too many women like Judith Hearne over the course of her lifetime—spinster ladies, as they used to be called, in reduced circumstances, eking out their days in small rooms and trying to keep things respectable. Judith Hearne has a drink problem, so her respectability develops a bit of a wobble. This is made worse by the arrival in her Belfast boarding house of a man she thinks might be romantically inclined. Moore has absolute control over his narrative, and Judith Hearne's descent is both excruciating and enthralling.