The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
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The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,005 ratings  ·  122 reviews
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and circumstance. First published in 1955, it marked Brian Moore as a major figure in English literature (he would go on to be short-listed three times for the Booker Prize) and established him as an astute chronicler of the human soul.

Judith Hearne is an unma...more
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Published (first published 1955)
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I tried to think of a more depressing novel than Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, and I came up with exactly nada. Even Holocaust literature usually aspires to some mitigating, redemptive element to remind the reader that—even though the world is a sick, twisted, hateful, miserable, incomprehensibly fucked-up place—there are still nooks and crannies of goodness to be found here and there. (Or what passes for goodness on the sliding scale of values, at any rate.) Mitigation is s...more
Hannah  Messler
Oh sweet lord if there is a more excruciatingly, exquisitely, exactingly, deliriously wretched little book out there, I don't think I could even handle it.

What an absolute motherfucking masterpiece.
Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 16, 2013 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people whose faith in either direction is strong enough to take it
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: David via review
Happy St. Patrick's Day. <--insert irony emoticon here-->

Holy moly, faith an' begorrah. This Brian Moore guy ... I think I love him (even) more than Graham Greene, which is the most obvious comparison. I devoured this, reading ravenously to 3 a.m. this morning. Judith! Poor Judith. Is there any one of us who doesn't feel for her? Feel *like* her? (view spoiler)

Seven things for now:

1) Feels like Slaves of Sol...more

I really really enjoyed this extraordinary novel and found this modern classic fiction writing at its best.

This Novel was one of the recommendations from Good Reads and I have to be honest I had never heard of Brian Moore until I purchased this book. First published in 1955 this novel is a real classic and I can see why Mr Moore was shortlisted for the Booker Pricze three times.

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne is an unflinching and deeply sympathetic portrait of a woman destroyed by self and...more
Beginning with a sigh of regret and ending with a sob of resignation, Brian Moore has created a character-driven novel of grief, sadness, and utter loneliness set in the shabby and bedraggled streets of Belfast during the 1950's. In spite of a dismal landscape, a series of blemished characters, and a profound aura of failure, this is a book of extraordinary beauty written in seamless prose. It is a work that is so cinematic in description that one need not know that the 1955 novel was transforme...more
Moira Russell
Beautifully written, but (and?) glum, glum, glum and grim. Slightly reminiscent of Jean Rhys, except even more hopeless and drab -- Moore's prose style is good, but not as diamond-hard and faceted as hers, and the Rhys women at least get to rebel. This is the story from the other side, a life crushed into conformity. One of the few books I've read that manages to thoroughly de-mythologize Ireland (which also means un-Joyceing it, altho you can see a bit of Dubliners peeking out now and then). On...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
While I'm well up on most of the current batch of novelists writing about Belfast, this book is only the second that I've read by Brian Moore, and as a result, I'll definitely be reading more of his body of work.

Originally published in 1955, we meet the novel's main protagonist, Judith Hearne, as she moves into a new boarding house on Camden Street, off the Lisburn Road in Belfast. As the novel progresses, we find out more about the character's personality, as well as how others see her through...more
This book was simply devastating. Judy, a spinster, who is devoutly religious, a tad martyrish, and woefully unaware of her own reality, takes up residence at yet a new boarding house (this whole concept of shared living that seemed to be so common Back Then but now seemingly obsolete really fascinates me) where she meets a single man. In Judy's classic way she immediately assumes more to the connection than there is, and the story quickly details the devastation of Judy, who is also mishandling...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
One of the saddest stories I have read in the recent times........

It is about a forty year old Catholic plain looking poor spinster (Judith Hearne) whose sole aim is to be married and to have a home to share with someone. Her sick aunt, under whose care Judith grew as a teenager and a young girl, sees to it that Judith never finds a man and a job for the aunt wanted Judith to be with her as a nurse till the end of her death. When the aunt dies, Judith is above thirty with no money, no job and no...more
Jun 17, 2011 Ana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ana by: Bookslut blog
Shelves: fiction
How to recommend a book full of utter despair and hopelessness? But I will.
This is a book that I'm envious of, envious of not having written it. Even if it was written 22 years before i was born ;o)

Moore managed to get himself inside the head of Judith in a brilliant way. Her yearning for something, some sort of connection, making her see things that weren't there. Hoping against hope that her situation will change even as she does almost nothing to change it.

I suppose this book couldn't really...more
May 15, 2008 Maureen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The plain, the unloved and the unlovable.
The titular lonely lady lives in a bedsit in a Belfast street I know well, as my parents own a house there which is rented out to students. I was therefore aware of this book from a young age, but it had an exotic taint to it, as it was anti-Church, and perhaps involved immoral living.

Anyway, I've read it now, and enjoyed it. I'm a little uneasy when a male writer attempts to get into the head of an unloved spinster, and I was occasionally alarmed by the unreformed sexual attitudes that one mus...more
The shoe eyes staring at Judith Hearne throughout the novel, accusing, laughing along, leering, laughing at. Finally indifferent, like all, nearly all she meets, particularly men. A masterful piece of writing, cleverly and so economically done. Some parts are from different povs which gets you through the plot in an efficient way, and gives sidelights and other views on the protagonist. The last few chapters when the character goes from address to address in her hired car is almost insanely econ...more
Terri Jacobson
Judith Hearne is a spinster in her 40s who has just moved into new "digs" in Belfast, Ireland. Judith struggles to make ends meet by giving piano lessons and teaching an embroidery class. She has few friends and is quite lonely. Judith has lived alone since her great-aunt died--an aunt who she spent the years of her prime taking care of. She becomes attracted to her landlady's brother, and imagines a relationship much deeper than it in fact is . As her fantasies crumble, Judith turns to alcohol...more
Utterly convincing and utterly depressing.
Joy H.
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955) by Brian Moore
Added 1/29/12.

I read this book many years ago and am just getting around to adding it to my Netflix shelves.

Today I streamed the movie adapted from this book. It stars Maggie Smith.
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987)
"Maggie Smith (who won a BAFTA Award for her nuanced pe...more
Wow. Well, this was an an excellently written book; I have never read Brian Moore and found him to be so skilled especially at expressing inner dialogue of the characters. I really plowed through this novel, finishing it in only 2 days, if for no other reason than to get it behind me and hopefully out of my system...I feel like I need to go on a sunny mountain hike or do some beach yoga as penance for delving into Judy Hearne's depressing life for the past 48 hours! This book was unexpectedly gr...more
Now I understand why women used to join the nunnery: on this sodden Catholic island, there were few options for a homely girl with no income but to become a kept woman of Christ. Judith Hearne is a middle aged woman in decline, financially and otherwise -- and then her last chance at happiness ends farcically. The greatest tragedy of all is that in the fist-shaking rage, drunkenness, and faithlessness that accompany her nervous breakdown, we can discern the bare outline of the spirited woman she...more

Judith Hearne is lonely old maid who lives in a Belfast boarding house. She has no family, is only intermittently employed, and stretches a meager savings as much as humanly possible just to make sure she can provide herself with the necessities. Her only pleasures in life are attending church services and visiting the O'Neills, family friends who dread her weekly visit. It should be noted that this is the high point of Judith's life in the novel. The book chronicles her descent from this very...more
Masterpiece! beautiful, heartbreaking,character study. This book one of the forgotten classics that thankfully, that NYRB has rightfully put back in print. This book will not be a waste of time,unless you have a heart of stone.Well I must say as much I think highly of this book, but my taste in books tends to be adult literary fiction; if like your fiction uplifting and on the light side this book may not be for you its wonderful, but its very harsh, dark, and unforgiving but if you're willing t...more
This fuckin' lady.

I just cringed the whole time I was reading this novel. Truly excellent work by Brian Moore. I felt like I actually knew Judith Hearne — I wanted to tell everyone around me about all the asinine things she was doing. This strikes me as the kind of novel where in five years I'm going to get this deja vu feeling and wonder about some distant memory of this 43-year-old lady I used to know and it will drive me insane all day trying to remember who it was. 8/10
I read this book years ago and loved it. I read it again for a book club and it is still as powerful. It is the story of a lonely forty-ish woman living in a Belfast boarding house and the disintegration of her last illusions about finding happiness in her life.
(I also love the movies Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves -- so this might not be everyone's cup of tea)
I loved this book. It was so moving. I read it because it was reviewed positively on The First Tuesday Book Club otherwise I would never have heard of it. I have been disappointed with their choices before (I hated the Wide Sargasso Sea) but this was fantastic.
Perhaps the most excruciating novel I’ve read...a brilliantly written observation of despair and loneliness. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Miss Hearne. I need to read something happy now!
This early Brian Moore novel was difficult to read because of his moving depiction of a lonely woman whose betrayal by a relative she never betrayed has left her poor and isolated.
Shaheen Ashraf-Ahmed
Some books just stay with you, and this is one of them. Loneliness drifts like fog through this story.
Donna Earle
A very good book.I could read it over and over.It is a fascinating study of a woman.
Good antidote to any romance novel with an Irish setting.
I liked how Judith Hearne, the movingly pathetic heroine of this no-emotional-holds-barred book, is as subject to human failings in her meek way as the world of people who so marginally accommodates her. She doesn't even like the one, old friend who takes pity on her earnestly enough to give up money and time to provide some assistance. Judith pulls out all stops in her last ditch effort to demand more of life than she's received. And her final compromise is not the usual tear-jerker, however sa...more
This book is at times darkly humorous, and other times so damn sad I could hardly believe I was interested. Depressing books that are depressing for no good reason, I hate. But this, this book presented a character with whom I had nearly nothing in common and, despite that, I felt for her, I loved her, even though I knew she was hopeless. Even when I found her mishaps excruciatingly sad and humiliating. It's hard to put into words how this book immerses you without completely draining you. It ha...more
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NYRB Classics: The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, by Brian Moore 1 4 Oct 28, 2013 11:41AM  
  • The Slaves of Solitude
  • The Outward Room
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • Manservant and Maidservant
  • Cassandra at the Wedding
  • Angel
  • A Legacy
  • The Mountain Lion
  • The Pumpkin Eater
  • The Fountain Overflows
  • Death in Summer
  • The Vet's Daughter
  • Great Granny Webster
  • Monsieur Monde Vanishes
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • Proud Beggars
  • Varieties of Exile
  • After Claude
Brian Moore (1921–1999) was born into a large, devoutly Catholic family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father was a surgeon and lecturer, and his mother had been a nurse. Moore left Ireland during World War II and in 1948 moved to Canada, where he worked for the Montreal Gazette, married his first wife, and began to write potboilers under various pen names, as he would continue to do throughout...more
More about Brian Moore...
Lies Of Silence Black Robe The Magician's Wife The Statement The Doctor's Wife

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“O, she said, a woman in love can't afford to be proud. He must be made to see, he must be made to come back. And I must do it myself, no matter how silly it looks.” 1 likes
“For it was important to have things to tell which interested your friends. And Miss Hearne had always been able to find interesting happenings where other people would find only dullness. It was, she often felt, a gift which was one of the great rewards of a solitary life. And a necessary gift. Because, when you were a single girl, you had to find interesting things to talk about. Other women always had their children and shopping and running a house to chat about. Besides which, their husbands often told them interesting stories. But a single girl was in a different position. People simply didn’t want to hear how she managed things like accommodation and budgets. She had to find other subjects and other subjects were mostly other people. So people she knew, people she had heard of, people she saw in the street, people she had read about, they all had to be collected and gone through like a basket of sewing so that the most interesting bits about them could be picked out and fitted together to make conversation.” 0 likes
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