Shade: A Novel

Shade: A Novel

3.8 4
by Neil Jordan

View All Available Formats & Editions

The Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan returns to fiction with a haunting, highly praised novel, his first in ten years. Narrated by the ghost of Nina Hardy, an actress who is murdered in the opening scene of the book, Shade tells the story of two pairs of siblings growing up in Ireland in the first half of the century. Through a childhood that memory gives


The Oscar-winning filmmaker Neil Jordan returns to fiction with a haunting, highly praised novel, his first in ten years. Narrated by the ghost of Nina Hardy, an actress who is murdered in the opening scene of the book, Shade tells the story of two pairs of siblings growing up in Ireland in the first half of the century. Through a childhood that memory gives the luster of romance and the tragedy that strikes as the children reach adolescence and the two boys leave for the Great War, these unforgettable characters reach the 1950s to play their roles in a murder ultimately revealed as the opposite of the senseless crime it seems.

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Jordan is best known as the director of “The Crying Game” and other films, but he started out as a fiction writer. His fourth novel is set on the banks of the River Boyne, in Ireland, and opens, in 1950, with a murder. The victim is Nina Hardy, a middle-aged actress, who has returned from America to live in the riverside mansion where she and her half brother grew up. The murderer (revealed at the outset) is a childhood friend who, along with his sister, lived on the opposite bank of the river. The first half of the novel tells the story of the quartet’s childhood friendship, an idyll that ends when the boys go off to fight in the First World War and Nina runs away to join an acting troupe. Jordan’s writing is atmospheric and filled with memorable images, but the second half of the novel, building toward the murder, sometimes feels perfunctory.
Publishers Weekly
Elegantly sober narration from beyond the grave ("George killed me with his gardening shears.... He held the shears to my neck in the glasshouse, and with quite spectacular clumsiness opened a moonlike gash on my throat") distinguishes this ghost story from novelist and Oscar-winning filmmaker (The Crying Game) Jordan. His gloomy tale, spanning the first half of the 20th century, begins where the story ends: Nina Hardy is murdered by her childhood friend, George, now the gardener on the estate where she spent her youth. The rest of the book looks backward, as Nina reflects on her life and the lives of her half-brother Gregory, George and George's sister, Janie. The familiar, theatrical plot-with its traumas of unrequited love across class lines, incestuous longings, war-is secondary to Nina's voice: "I am everywhere being nowhere, the narrative sublime...." Her ghostly omniscience leads to echoing motifs, including drowned women, pendulums, dolls and childhood accidents, in "a shifting, uncertain world, where each question could be referred to an entity that wasn't there," even as the reasons behind the murder become more unsettlingly clear. Nina's ghost sometimes takes a backseat to stretches of exposition from less engaging characters, and the novel as a whole can feel dreamily disjointed. Such lapses are forgiven, though, in this otherwise daring and well-crafted whole. Agent, Kim Witherspoon. BOMC and Doubleday Book Club selection; 5-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This fourth novel by award-winning writer and film director Jordan is as cryptic as his Oscar-winning The Crying Game. Set in Ireland, it begins with a brutal murder and continues with the story of four characters, alternating between past and present and including the voice of the murder victim until the story culminates in a gasp-out-loud ending, for which Jordan is known. The two male protagonists, Gregory and George, give vivid descriptions of World War I battles, from which George emerges physically and emotionally scarred. Nina, the "shade," tells of her career as an actress, while Janie is left behind in Ireland to hold together the pieces of their joint past. Jordan's prose is dramatic, poetic, and surprising by turns. Recommended for large public libraries. Karen Traynor, Sullivan Free Lib., Chittenango, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The ghost of a murdered woman relives and evaluates her life in this elaborately orchestrated tale from the Irish novelist (The Dream of a Beast, 1989, etc.) and filmmaker (Mona Lisa, The Crying Game, etc.). Employing a narrative method similar to that of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (not to mention Billy Wilder's film classic Sunset Boulevard), Jordan tells his strange story through the disembodied voice of retired film and theater actress Nina Hardy. It's a tale that cuts a melodramatic swath through the period 1900-50, beginning with Nina's dispassionate account of her murder by her childhood friend George, whose unrequited love for her was frustrated by Nina's close attachment to her brooding half-brother Gregory, a brain-damaged simulacrum of Emily Bronte's Heathcliff. There are also pronounced echoes of Dickens's Great Expectations in Nina's remembrance of growing up in Baltray House, located on an estuary of the River Boyne-to which element Nina will eventually "return" (for George had decapitated her and thrown her headless body into a septic tank that emptied into it). Shade (a nice title, incidentally) exhibits both lyrically precise writing and overstraining for effect. The specific detail with which Nina describes her early years (marked by her vivid imagination and by the foreshadowing -presence of her ill-fated alcoholic governess) and her experience of the movies' transition from silent films to "talkies" is invariably dramatic and interesting. But it was surely a mistake to credit her "shade" with total godlike omniscience even if this does enable Jordan to create compelling images of the WWI experiences of the two men who figure most importantly in her life and death.There are many beautiful moments here, but the vivid particulars do not consistently cohere. Still, Jordan undoubtedly has the skills to turn it into a movie that will be well worth seeing. Agent: Kim Witherspoon/Witherspoon Associates

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
659 KB

Meet the Author

Neil Jordan is the award-winning writer and director of such films as Mona Lisa, The End of the Affair, and The Crying Game, for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1993. He is also the author of three previous novels-The Past, The Dream of a Beast, and Sunrise with Sea Monster-and a short-story collection, Night in Tunisia.

Neil Jordan was born in 1950 in Sligo. His first book of stories, Night In Tunisia, won the 1979 Guardian fiction prize and his subsequent critically acclaimed novels include The Past, Sunrise with Sea Monster, Shade and Mistaken. The films he has written and directed have won multiple awards, including an Oscar for The Crying Game, a Golden Bear at Venice for Michael Collins, a Silver bear at Berlin for The Butcher Boy and several BAFTAS for Mona Lisa and The End Of The Affair. He is an Officier of the French Ordres Des Artes et Lettres. He lives in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Shade 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
hibernophile More than 1 year ago
I had reasons for reading this book (with associated expectations) that are not germane to this review, and after letting the story and its technical aspects digest for a few days I'm revising my initial rating down just a bit, but ¿Shade¿ is still the best fictional contemporary writing I've read by or about the Irish, for nearly three years. Negative: Because it lacks ¿who-done-it¿ impetus, the ¿why-done-it¿ assumes primary importance, and while Jordan's "why" is compelling, he fails to give the revelation as much punch as it deserves. There are a couple of small factual inaccuracies, but they're only likely to bother somebody like me, who knows those details. In the second half of the story the action gets a bit choppy with too-rapid point-of-view changes. Positive: The prose is lucid, and it's reasonably tight without losing the kind of descriptive power that's imperative to paint pictures in the mind. The use of converging narratives to build tension is both subtle and successful, overall psychological character development is plausible and I was able to achieve suspension of disbelief. In summary, while other contemporary authors in the by-or-about-the-Irish genre have received inappropriately fulsome praise for their patently poor products, Neil Jordan¿s ¿Shade¿ deserves all the positive press it gets.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everything in this book was exceptional. From the story line to the layout of the book and mostly the descriptions of the surroundings and people. The wording was very heart felt to me!! I cried not only at the end but also through the whole book as well. Very touching story! Pick it up today, you will be done with it tomorrow
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Crying Game' immediately signaled that here was an author with original and imaginative vision, a writer with the power to hold readers transfixed. 'Shade' solidifies that impression. A member of Dublin's Abbey Theatre and the National Theatre in London, Terry Donnelly is both beguiling and bewitching as she inhabits the ghostly voice of Nina. Nina's death was not pretty. Her throat was cut with gardening shears by her childhood friend, George. He was many things, among them thorough as her body was never found. We learn this as she speaks to us from the afterlife. Her narrative recounts a happy Irish childhood spent beside the River Boyne. Her companions were George and his sister, Janie. They were not born as fortunately as Nina, so they lived on the other side of the river. Nonetheless they were all boon companions; friendships were formed. Nina's half-brother, Gregory, completed the once carefree foursome. However, time passes and things change, as do people. War takes its toll and one may never be the same. In true Jordan style the reason for the brutal killing is not revealed until the story's conclusion. It's unlikely that listeners will not be moved by this sometimes poetic, always powerful tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Barf vomit erc efc etc