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Ghost Moth

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  383 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
During the hot Irish summer of 1969, tensions rise in Belfast where Katherine, a former actress, and George, a firefighter, struggle to keep buried secrets from destroying their marriage. As Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists clash during the "Troubles" and Northern Ireland moves to the brink of civil war, the lines between private anguish and public outrage dis ...more
ebook, 252 pages
Published March 29th 2013 by Bellevue Literary Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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My rating 4.5 out of 5 stars.*

What a beautifully written book! The writing is just phenomenal. Michele Forbes has a gift for the written word.

Ghost Moth's setting is in Ireland. It tells the story of Katherine, alternating between two time periods, the late 40's and the late 60's. The story begins in the 60's, when Katherine is wife to George, and a mother to four young children. The book then returns to the 40's: Katherine is a stage actress, has a dedicated boyfriend of a couple of years, but
Jul 21, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
I know a book is really good when it leaves me grieving for hours after finishing it. I knew a few pages into chapter 2 that this book was going to be a tearjerker. And I was right! However, there were so many depressing and unpredictable layers, I ended up crying for completely unexpected reasons! I actually really like tearjerkers, so I did not mind the tears. It's a really raw and honest read--I can't believe it is Forbes's first novel. I hope she will be writing more.
I received a copy of "Ghost Moth" by Michele Forbes courtesy of Penguin Books Canada in exchange for an honest review. As this is her first novel this shows the talent of this literary author, a real storyteller who has written an exquisite novel. The novel is set in Ireland at the time when Northern Ireland moves to the brink of civil war.

Ghost Moth tells the story of Katherine, alternating between two time periods, the late 40's and the late 60's. The story begins in the 60's, when Katherine i
Margaret Madden
From, my book review blog

This is the story of Katherine Bedford. She is a wife and mother of four and the book starts with a look at her present life in Northern Ireland, 1969.

In her earlier years she was an opera singer with a local musical society in 1940's Belfast. While being fitted for her costume for a production of Carmen she meets a handsome tailor for whom she feels an immediate attraction. The only problem is, she has a long term boyfriend who she has agr
Oct 19, 2014 Lynda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, irish
This novel is written in a lyrical style with a sombre tone. Bringing skillfully together the lyricism of Irish writing and the sombre ugly backdrop of East Belfast at the beginning of the troubles. Forbes gives as a strange evocative threnody of a thwarted love story and its far reaching implications. There are some marvellous passages of restrained passion as when the tailor measures Katherine for her Carmen costume, or the milky luminescence of the apricot dawn when Katherine and her daughter ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Allan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This, Forbes' debut novel, was a terribly sad read, but one that I'm glad I picked up.

Set in the 'present' of 1969, the tells the story of Kathleen, her husband George and her three daughters as Belfast, their home city, stands at the brink of self destruction. Early on, it becomes clear that Kathleen's relationship with her husband is complex, and through flashbacks to 1949, we soon find out why. In 1969, the fact that the family are Catholic and living in an increasingly hostile area while sec
Aug 11, 2014 Mandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Michele Forbes’ debut novel has garnered fulsome praise from writers such as Roddy Doyle, John Banville and Anne Enright, in addition to a whole mass of laudatory reviews from reviewers. But for me this book was more of an extended cliché than an enjoyable and accomplished piece of fiction. The author seems incapable of writing about anything without adding adverbs and adjectives to excess, nor to be able to write a sentence without adding in a simile or metaphor or without piling on the imagery ...more
Ghost Moth is utterly heartbreaking. Not that Michèle Forbes debut novel should be confused with that bathic and manipulative genre contrived to play on ones emotions - the tear jerker. Forbes tells a haunting story of an Irish family during the early days of Belfast's troubles. Rather suddenly mother Katherine is drawn back to her past, trobled by memories of a tragic affair that nearly brought about the end of her engagement to the dependable, but rather dull George. As she is haunted by memor ...more
Jul 30, 2013 Anne rated it really liked it
When I was offered the chance to review Michele Forbes' debut novel Ghost Moth, I had heard nothing about either the novel or the author before. The description was enticing and seemed to be just up my street. The debut novel of an female Irish author, a dual-time story, set in Belfast - what's not to love?

The uncorrected proof copy is a slim paperback, just 237 pages long. The first few pages are taken up with praise for this novel, from editors, publicists and managers of the publishing compan
Chris Blocker
Jul 19, 2013 Chris Blocker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghost Moth is a very lyrical debut novel, though it didn't quite feel like a novel. The author's style, the compactness of chapters, made this work feel closer to a collection of short stories, but the arc connecting beginning to end was certainly one. So while the succinctness and tone reminded me of a collection, and while some of the chapters could stand alone, it would be inaccurate to call Ghost Moth anything but a novel.

Michèle Forbes' debut is profuse in language. She can form a very beau
Jan 04, 2014 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dec-13
Ghost Moth, Michele Forbes debut novel, is not only beautifully written but heartbreakingly mesmerizing. The story haunted me for days once finished.
Set amidst the religious conflicts of 1969 Belfast this is the story of Katherine Bedford a wife and mother of four. In her earlier years she was an opera singer in the production "Carmen" and met a tailor Tom, whom she feels an immediate attraction for. However, she is engaged to her longtime boyfriend George at the time. The intense desire that Ka
Jul 30, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it
In this poignant debut novel, the weight of suppressed guilt haunts and torments a couple, threatening their relationship and exhausting their spirit. An eloquent story that draws beauty from ordinary life, placing scenes of charming domesticity against the misery of grief, remorse and civil unrest. Many thanks to Penguin Canada, for providing this heartbreaking ARC (box of tissue not included). Also enjoyed voting for the winning book cover. Brilliant.
Sandy Hogarth
Apr 18, 2015 Sandy Hogarth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I listened to it on audio then bought it in hardback. Michele reads it herself, beautifully.
Ghost Moth is set in 1949 and 1969 by which time Northern Ireland is aflame. It moves between the decades. In 1949 Katherine meets Tom while already engaged to devoted, patient George. She is playing Carmen, ‘a woman not careful with her love’, in a local production. Tom, the head tailor makes her a magnificent costume and sews into it all his love for her.
It is love with all its fla
This is Forbe's first novel, but it is one that will stay with me. It is set in Northern Ireland, in a suburban-like neighborhood of Belfast. Katherine is a mother of 4, in 1969, married to a civil servant who also serves as a volunteer firefighter, George. George converted to Catholicism when they married, and aside from a local shopkeeper couple, the only Catholics in their neighborhood. Early on, we learn that Katherine still has deep feelings for another love in her past. Much of Forbes' des ...more
Jan 01, 2014 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's my review from The List:

This Belfast-set novel, the debut of Irish actress-turned-writer Michèle Forbes, is initially underwhelming: its story of Katherine, a wife and mother in 1969, struck by memories of a defining romantic encounter 20 years earlier, is beautifully written, but not gripping. But Forbes’ writing possesses a stealthy power, and her patient layering of the story, memory upon memory, results in a surprising emotional impact by the time the final page is turned.

On the surfa
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 05, 2015 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: PW 5/6/13
This book wasn't what I expected. It's described as Ireland during the "troubles" and I suppose the present-day stuff is that, but hardly. The only way that enters into the story is Katherine's husband is a fire-fighter and her daughters get teased for their religion. But they are not the focus, Katherine is the central force of the novel.

The way the novel started, with Katherine swimming and staring into the eyes of a seal (and almost drowning) I thought oh maybe this is a selkie story. That fi
Guy Allen
Nov 26, 2013 Guy Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghost Moth by Michele Forbes is an excellent story. The tragedy of Katherine's lost love, her settlement for a life with George and her eventual death from cancer are partially balanced by the final acceptance of the life she has chosen and the love of her children. The story line is well crafted and effectively involves the reader in the conflicts in her life. The word images created to describe her world are vivid and poetic.
The story has two settings; one involves her life as a young unmarrie
May 05, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is haunted by memories
The novel is so strange in its darkness and ghostliness, I feel hardly able to describe it. I am numbed and silenced by it, but awaken somehow from inside, some deep quiet part of me emerges as I read it. The rolling, swaying rhythm of Forbes's prose lulls you into a magical place that is both here, there and somewhere in-between.

The poetic qualities of her writing perfectly capture the story of a woman who appears to be with one foot in another world, as though is not quite there, as if she is
Jan 04, 2015 Theresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very powerful and poignant novel about love and tragedy. The story switches between two time points and explores the dilemmas faced by Katherine Fallon, an actress and later on a mother, in love with two men. Michele Forbes' writing is excellent. I highly recommend it.
Dec 02, 2013 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Fine, lyrical writing. Large swaths of this novel, however, suffer from overwriting, which sets up the reader for tension or drama that rarely materializes. Most of the major characters are, at first, established with great care, but are not as fleshed out as one would like. A promising, hopeful, but ultimately unsatisfying read.

(This has nothing to do with my rating, but Yankee readers who may not have much knowledge or awareness of Ireland's Troubles, which forms the backdrop of The Ghost Mot
Lorine Kritzer
May 13, 2013 Lorine Kritzer rated it it was ok
I feel so-so about this book. I was thrown by the seal scene -- it never did reveal itself as to meaning. Still, I was rooting for Katherine and George. I thought the character of Tom wasn't as fully fleshed out as he could have been, so I found myself wondering what about him so bowled Katherine over. I liked the interweaving of the stories, and I think some of the writing was excellent. Having said that, however, I agree that there are probably better books on the list for general reading and ...more
This is a good, well written story set in the hot summer of 1969 in the early days of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Katherine and George are devoted to their kids and seem to have a loving, happy family life. There is however a hidden secret in their past that is gradually drawn out set alongside the fact that the couple originally come from different sides of the growing sectarian divide and are now living in the wrong part of Belfast in terms of the children's religion and schooling.
Clare Hudson
Sep 07, 2015 Clare Hudson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't think I'd read this, but as soon as I started reading, realised that I had!
Now that doesn't particularly bode well, as although the story is 'ringing bells' I don't really remember how it ends.
This is surprising because.......
The atmosphere is so tense you could cut it with a knife - even on a Kindle!! Thunderstorms brewing and I get the sense of disaster at every turn of the page. Really, really well written - so descriptive it's absolutely beautiful. So - I'm really surprised I don't re
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Victoria Young
Jan 27, 2014 Victoria Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't really what I expected it to be. The blurb on the back and the setting of the novel created an assumption that Forbes' novel was going to focus in some way on the political crises of Northern Ireland, and though the book does mention the beginning of Belfast's Troubles, there is really nothing political at all about the primary themes of this story. Ghost Moth is actually a very subtle story about love and loss and other interior experiences in the course of every day life. If a ...more
Mar 01, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This debut novel is set in Northern Ireland. The time period switches between 1949 and 1969 and focuses on the lives of Katherine and George Bedford, who got engaged in 1949. Twenty years later they have a family of four and live in a house on an estate in Belfast, with all the tensions associated with being a Catholic family in a predominantly Protestant area during the Troubles.
As the chapters unfold and dot between the two timeframes, more and more of the couple’s relationship history is reve
Kevin Freeburn
Mar 10, 2014 Kevin Freeburn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

From the opening pages of this stunning debut, in which we find Katherine in an encounter with a seal I was drawn in hook, line and sinker.

This is an extraordinarily rich piece of work that features extensive use of symbolism and metaphor and beautiful characterisation, particularly in the case of the main character, someone we really feel we’ve lived a life with.

It’s set in Northern Ireland in two periods of time, firstly in 1949 as Katherine is preparing
Dec 12, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I selected this at random. It has been one of the most evocative, beautiful and memorable books I have ever read.

This superb author has so magically captured her characters. her story , set in Ireland in 1969 reflects on the issues of love, married love, infatuation and maternal love.

Forbes reflects on the story of a couple and the two secrets that have scarred their relationship over their married life. George is a stable, solid man. he is a devoted husband, father and community man but ......

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Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michèle Forbes is an award-winning theatre, television and film actress. She studied literature at Trinity College, Dublin and has worked as a literary reviewer for the IRISH TIMES. Her short stories have received both the BRYAN MACMAHON and the MICHAEL MCLAVERTY AWARDs. She lives near Dalkey, Dublin with her husband and two children. GHOST MOTH is her first nove ...more
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