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Books Editorial

shadowplay19.jpg Shadowplay
 

Joseph O’Connor, Harvill Secker

Set in Victorian London, the latest novel from Joseph O’Connor is a fictionalised account of the relationship between the two leading theatrical lights of the era – Henry Irving and Ellen Terry – and Bram Stoker. Stoker, of course, is the author of ‘Dracula’ but his gothic masterpiece didn’t capture the public imagination until after his death. Here we follow him as he is plucked from Dublin by Irving in order to run his personal affairs, as well as the Lyceum theatre. It’s long been claimed that Irving was one of the main inspirations for Dracula and O’Connor has great fun riffing on this (when they first meet he tells him, “I don’t bite”), but other references to the Count abound as Stoker struggles to get his literary career off the ground. The real theme of the book however concerns both friendship and love – which is particularly well drawn between the three protagonists – and our own sense of self. How many masks do we wear in the course of a life?