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Shadowplay

por Joseph O'Connor

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1057203,896 (3.98)21
'A hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly - at times, astonishingly - a story of transience, loss and true loyalty' Guardian 1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager's devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Smart, clever, moving novel that reconstructs the relationships of actors Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, and theatre manager/author Bram Stoker, and the genesis of Stoker's Dracula

I loved this, and I'm not ashamed to admit that it sometimes moved me to tears.

'I went to a seance,' she says. 'Out of curiosity, nothing more. The medium told me I knew a man who will one day write a story that will stop the world on its track. Published in hundreds of languages. Whose hero will be unextinguishable.'
'I don't hold with such nonsense.'
'Interesting, all the same.'


Interesting, indeed.

So many, many, many things to love about this: O'Connor's careful drip-drip-drip feed of the origin story of the Unextinguishable Count, as Stoker gradually builds up the character and the plot and the legend over the years, like a magpie stealing a name here, a setting there; a weird story overheard in the crush bar, after a show. A career spent living with the whims of a domineering -- one might almost say blood-sucking -- personality. It's one thing to be told that Sir Henry Irving was the inspiration for Dracula, it quite another thing to be masterfully shown the character developing, like a photographic plate, in real time.

Beautiful use of language: my spell-checker doesn't recognize 'unextinguishable' as a Real Word -- but it's perfect.

I didn't know that Stoker died thinking that he was a failure, and the his Count had been forgotten. (I'd always thought that he was a "one hit wonder" who spent the rest of his career trying to recapture the lightening in the bottle.) I also didn't know exactly how the clash between his widow and the makers of the film Nosferatu worked out, almost magically, to not only protect Stoker's legacy, but also to unleash upon us the unextinguishable Count of fanfic, reboots and endless adaptations. With Frankenstein, our two modern mythologies, endlessly available for reinterpreting and re-imagining, but always interesting to return to the source. ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Before reading this novel, all I knew about Henry Irving was that he died in my hometown of Bradford in 1905 - the chair he expired on was given by the Midland Hotel to the Garrick Club in London. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Ellen Terry was the actress sister of Fred Terry, who played Sir Percy Blakeney on stage. I like to think I know more about these literary and dramatic personalities now, even if the factual bones of Joseph O'Connor's story have been considerably fictionalised. But boy howdy, did I lack the patience to really enjoy what I was reading!

Starting in 1878, when a pre-vampire Stoker went to work for Irving as manager of the Lyceum, and dragging on past the actor's death in Bradford with many unnecessary codas, there isn't really a plot and I think the theatre is the best character. I did enjoy the bitchy bants between Irving and Stoker, and some of the narrative was amusing in places and spooky in others, but 432 pages of padded Wikipedia references is - just - too - long! Dying in Bradford sounds like a perfectly respectable ending to me - NOW STOP WRITING! ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Mar 29, 2021 |
Ambivalent about this melodramatic tosh, which so well combined literary references, descriptions of Victorian London and interesting characterisation of historic persons (Bram Stoker of Dracula fame, Henry Irving and Ellen Terry who were the most famous actors of their time). All would normally be fine and dandy, but O’Connor admits in a Caveat at the end that many liberties have been taken with facts, characterisation and chronologies.
If the book had just been fiction, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But because it is based on fact, taking such liberties with the facts created disbelief for me, as I somehow doubted the chronology of the story, checked and found it was incorrect. Once I doubted the veracity of the facts, it soured the whole reading experience for me. Even though I knew it was fiction, because I doubted the actual facts of the Stoker, Irving and Terry, I lost faith in the story. For me, it would have been better to have stayed more closely to the known facts, or to have created a parallel totally fictional story such as Daisy Jones and the Six.
So overall only a middling read, which is a shame, as the idea of the book and the period description is excellent.

Told through journal extracts, reminiscences and flashbacks
First Act 1878.
Bram Stoker meets Henry Irving, the leading British actor, in Dublin and is engaged as his personal secretary to assist on the opening of The Lyceum Theatre in London. He marries Florence, an intelligent and independently spirited beauty, and travels to Victorian London, where both the noisy filth and opulence is described. Stoker is made general manager of The Lyceum Theatre, and various ideas which will be included in Dracula arise, Harker, Mina etc.
Second Act 1888, 1895, 1897
Ellen Terry is introduced, more ideas for Dracula arise with Jack the Ripper and Oscar Wilde referenced for period detail, Irving is knighted and Stoker publishes Dracula (it is a failure).
Third Act 1905
Irving and Stoker arrive in Bradford on Irving’s Farewell tour.
Coda 1912
Stoker meets with Terry again before the end. ( )
  CarltonC | Jul 5, 2020 |
Loved this book - a great historical fiction read giving a look at Lyceum Theater in London and the three great personalities that made it great. Bram Stoker was a nondescript clerk whose goal was to become a great author. Sir Henry Irving was a famous English actor specializing in the works of Shakespeare - the only actor to become knighted by the queen. Ellen Terry was the most famous actress of the time. Stoker takes on the job as Irving's personal manager which meant everything from taking care of him and all the managerial duties of the theater.

Stoker married young to Florence but his real love was writing and a never ending admiration and love for Irving.

Although Stoker never gained any recognition as an author while he lived, he was able to travel the world and had many influential friends including Oscar Wilde and others. He traveled with Irving to American where they were a huge success. Throughout all these years he struggled with his writing. His relationship with Irving was tumultuous and neared violence. Ellen Terry worked as a balance.

The story is so well written, interesting entertaining, and seems historically accurate to the times. Great read. ( )
  maryreinert | Jul 5, 2020 |
It is obvious any author wants an idea for a book, but O'Connor, by his own admission at the end, has taken the facts and ignored them. What he has done is written a book that the casual reader might take as biographical and end up with a totally erroneous view of the history of the characters involved, and of their reputations. To my mind O'Connor has created a romantic novel and tried to make it popular by randomly throwing in causes and incidents of the era and later, and has used the names of famous people for his characters and, in the process, totally twisted and mangled the reality of how these people lived.

My poor impression of Joseph O'Connor's work remains intact. ( )
1 vote pgmcc | Apr 10, 2020 |
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'A hugely entertaining book about the grand scope of friendship and love, it is also, movingly - at times, astonishingly - a story of transience, loss and true loyalty' Guardian 1878: The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager's devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.

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