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Discover the thrilling life of Bram Stoker, the man who created Dracula, in this immersive historical novel.
**Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award **
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.
**Winner of the Irish Post Easons Novel of the Year**
‘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
Three famous Victorians carry this sparkling historical novel: Sir Henry Irving, the great actor-manager; Ellen Terry, his leading lady; and Bram Stoker, the young Irishman who worked for Irving as a theatre manager before writing Dracula. From their entangled lives Joseph O'Connor weaves a story of love and loyalty, rich in wit and imagination. -- 100 Sizzling Summer Books * Daily Mail * One of Ireland's finest writers -- John Boyne * Washington Post * This is a marvellous novel: at once freewheeling, exultant, fully inhabiting the momentary, transitory nature of its world; and intensely aware of the limitations - too frequently self-imposed - of our painfully fleeting lives. * Dublin Review of Books * Wonderful. The writing is beautiful. -- Derek Jacobi A mesmerising read, meticulously researched, with beautiful prose...O'Connor has the gift of conjuring up any location....Wonderful suspense a la Wilkie Collins * Sunday Independent * A hugely entertaining and atmospheric novel, one can almost smell the greasepaint -- Deborah Moggach Gorgeously dark... Shadowplay is an accomplished, compelling read * Herald * There are few living writers who can take us back in time so assuredly, with such sensual density, through such gorgeous sentences. Joseph O'Connor is a wonder, and Shadowplay is a triumph. -- Peter Carey, twice winner of the Booker Prize A rollicking tale... an affecting depiction of artistic and social emancipation... O'Connor's well-researched theatrical caper offers total immersion in a romantic, lost London... be nourished by a colourful tale of secret love and public performance * The Times * A fabulous novel that tells the otherwise largely unknown story of the man behind Gothic horror's most enduring character... The narrative stretches decades, and throbs with theatrical vigour. This is writing at its most immersive, full of Dickensian pulchritude and pathos. It should, and might well, win prizes -- Nick Duerden * i * A work of Gothic splendour...O'Connor's writing is always intensely atmospheric. As a romp through Ripper-ravaged London, Shadowplay is mightily entertaining. But as a meditation on hidden sexuality, it is powerful and poignant * Literary Review * 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 -- Sadie Jones * Guardian * Joseph O'Connor is a very great artist and storyteller. The quotient of enjoyment in his extraordinary new novel is stupendous -- Sebastian Barry An ingenious novel... O'Connor's work is hugely impressive and utterly haunting * Sunday Mirror * Dazzling...the panache and subtlety of his prose perfectly match that gusto and creative finesse of the High Victorian world his novel wonderfully evokes * Sunday Times *
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