Ghost Moth | Penguin Random House Canada

Ghost Moth

Publisher: Penguin Canada
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. In this emotionally acute debut novel, Michèle Forbes immerses the reader in a colourful tapestry of life. Throughout the book’s care­fully woven story, the bonds of family are tested and forgiveness is made possible through two parents’ indomitable love for their children. An exploration of memory, childhood, illicit love, and loss, Ghost Moth portrays ordinary experiences as portals to rich internal landscapes: a summer fair held by children in a backyard garden exposes the pangs and confusion of a first crush; a lonely tailor who is hired by an amateur theatre production of Bizet’s Carmen puts so much careful attention into the creation of a costume for his lover that it’s as if his desire for her can be seen sewn into the fabric. All the while, Northern Ireland moves to the brink of civil war. As Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists clash during the “Troubles,” the lines between private anguish and public outrage disintegrate in this exceptional tale about a family—and country—seeking freedom from ghosts of the past.


“Personal and political turmoil erupt in the life of Irish housewife Katherine Bedford during the summer of 1969 in Forbes’s powerful debut novel. . . . Through her richly imagined characters, Forbes depicts a fully human and flawed relationship between two people with their own desires, memories, and secrets.” - Publishers Weekly

“A Belfast-born actress with experience in film, theatre, and television, Forbes draws from her own professional and personal background to imbue her protagonist with authentic energy and humanity . . . deftly explor[ing] the private and public struggles of this particular Catholic family with vivid, poetic language. . . . By the end, the truth—the brutal and the beautiful—rises to the surface of this eloquent novel.” - Boston Globe

“Readers will revel in the skillful writing . . . complex plot . . . strong characterization . . . lyrical descriptions . . . Genre fans (Irish-history buffs, family-story readers, historical-fiction enthusiasts) will enjoy this novel, while its stylistic richness and narrative intricacy will also please readers of literary fiction. Highly recommended.” - Booklist (starred review)

Ghost Moth is an impressive debut by a writer who is not afraid to address the so-called ordinary lives of real human beings. We shall be hearing a great deal more from Michèle Forbes.” - John Banville, Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light

“Clever, unpredictable, beautifully written and crafted— stayed with me for a long time after I’d finished reading the final, sad, wonderful page.” - Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and The Commitments

“This slow burning tale is both guileless and deeply—sometimes erotically—charged. The writing soaks up the world, and thrills to the beauty of it. Children, bees, milk, the sea, all are wonderfully rendered and alive on the page. Katherine Bedford—so ordinary and so passionate—is a heroine to treasure.” - Anne Enright, Booker Prize-winning author of The Gathering and The Forgotten Waltz

“Evocative . . . Forbes’ writing is lovely.” - Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A powerful debut novel, one that brings to life 20th-century Ireland with lyrical precision, from the people to the landscape to the country itself.” - Largehearted Boy

“This debut novel by Michele Forbes begins with a great, menacing scene in choppy ocean waters. I was thoroughly hooked by [the] opening lines.” - Quivering Pen

“A bountiful river of lovely images, fresh and perfect, a triumphant story both familiar and strange. A stellar debut.” - Sebastian Barry, Booker Prize-nominated author of The Secret Scripture and On Canaan's Side

“A haunting story about love, yearning and loss that never fails to surprise or move the reader. This is a most impressive debut from a supremely talented writer.” - Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of Last Train from Liguria and Tatty

“A commanding debut, packed with genuine characters, telling its story with powerful control. Ghost Moth is a beautiful book, by a wonderful writer.” - Frank McGuinness, twice Tony Award-nominated playwright of the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award-winning play Someone Who'll Watch Over Me

"There is a seduction scene in the fitting room of a tailor shop that I will never forget. There is a scene where a seal rises from the depths of the sea that my psyche will never give up. This haunting story is told with the greatest of passion and sensitivity. Michele Forbes has created strong, realistic characters who let us know that once decisions are made, there is no turning back." - - Frances Itani