[Ebook] Shadowplay By Joseph O'Connor – serv3.3pub.co.uk

[Ebook] Shadowplay By Joseph O'Connor – serv3.3pub.co.uk ➯ [Read] ➫ Shadowplay By Joseph O'Connor ➻ – Serv3.3pub.co.uk 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 Irv 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 managers 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.


10 thoughts on “Shadowplay

  1. Paromjit Paromjit says:

    The gifted Joseph O'Connor writes a smart and profoundly moving piece of historical fiction that is an absolute joy to read set in the Victorian era and featuring a famous trio of real life characters of the time Abraham 'Bram' Stoker a part time clerk in Dublin born in 1847 who went on to become business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London who died unable to achieve his dream of literary success receiving little support for his writing and the brilliant Shakespearean actor of his day Henry Irving and the towering Alice 'Ellen' Terry the best paid and adored actress of her era Stoker's classic tale Dracula is writ large in the entire narrative such as when Stoker's wife Florence inuiring as to the mark on his neck which he brushes off by dismissing it as a cut from shaving their marriage is a troubled affair Bram leaves Ellen a host of documents that illuminate how specific characters informed Dracula the air of menace drawing on the reign of terror and fear that Jack the Ripper engendered in the dark streets of London how the brutality and depravity of his crimes led to women having to take extreme care such as having to take cabs and how the atmospheric if dilapidated state of the Lyceum and the story of a ghost played their part too This is a story of the relationships drama between the trio the love intense feelings passionate and complex Irving may well have been a marvellous actor but he was mercurial and volatile very demanding challenging with a strong streak of cruelty with Terry the only person who could make a difference in ameliorating his behaviour Terry is compassionate independent and unafraid to speak her mind Unlike Dracula there is no immortality for the three as they are plagued with all that is associated with the decline of getting olderO'Connor brings alive the characters the historical period theatre life the issues of sexuality and beautifully lays out the the multitude of factors that inspired Stoker's novel The most affecting part for me was the the relationships between the three of them the pain the sorrow the loss and the joy A wonderful read that I cannot help but recommend highly Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC


  2. Dem Dem says:

    An enjoyable read but not a book that bowled me over I loved Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea and Ghost Light and was really excited to pick up a Hard Copy of Shadowplay I was aware that while the novel is based real events surrounding the lives of Bram Stoker author of Dracula Victorian actor manager Henry Irving and leading actress of the day Ellen Terry but many liberties had been taken with the facts characterization and chronologies and while this is effective in order to create the story I felt I could never connect with the story or the charactersThe setting of the novel really brings this story to life London of 1880s is beautifully described by Joseph O'Conner and the novel is atmospheric and descriptive but I found the story a little complex and I wasn't really a fan of Theater history to begin with so unfortunately this wasn't my wow book but lovers of Bram Stoker'sDracula or readers who enjoy Theater history may get from this book than meNot a book for my real life bookshelf but hopefully when I place it in the bookclub swap book pile some other reader may find their joy in this one


  3. Peter Boyle Peter Boyle says:

    We've all heard of Dracula but have you ever wondered about the man who invented him? Shadowplay is a fictionalized retelling of Bram Stoker's life beginning with his origins as a Dublin civil servant When Stoker writes a positive review of actor Henry Irving's Hamlet Irving hires him to run his Lyceum Theatre Stoker and his wife Flo are excited by their new life in London but when he discovers the wretched state of the theatre and experiences the first lash of Irving's notorious temper the young writer begins to uestion his decision After a lot of hard work the Lyceum starts to make a profit and the two men become at ease in one another's company They are soon joined by the beguiling Ellen Terry the finest actress of her generation Though he is swamped by his job Stoker still finds time to write undeterred by the muted reception for his output Inspired by the people he meets at the theatre he conjures up a charismatic Count from Transylvania and sets about writing a story that will ensure his name will be never be forgottenI knew little about the life of Bram Stoker before reading this novel so it was interesting to learn about him Of course Dracula became a sensation after he had passed so he never received recognition for his talents and you can sense his frustration in this story I had never heard of Ellen Terry or Henry Irving who has been referred to as the Mick Jagger of Victorian theatre The book suggests there was something of a love triangle between the three of them with Stoker's unreuited feelings for Terry a considerable source of disappointment on his part I admired the colourful portrait of Victorian London that O'Connor painted with Jack the Ripper terrorizing the locals But I'm afraid the novel never caught fire for me as a whole much as I enjoyed the verbal jousting between Stoker and Irving the narrative lacked any sort of momentum I'm still glad I read Shadowplay but it was of an educational experience than a riveting story


  4. Emma Emma says:

    I do like books set around the theatre This was a very evocative and atmospheric read and I really enjoyed the clever elements that lead us through the journey of Bram’s writing Dracula Irving was a well drawn character and I really felt for Bram’s poor wife But I felt the book went off in too many different directions and the style of chopped up narrative is not one I enjoy A very good read though


  5. Chadwick Chadwick says:

    Historical fiction of the highest order Absolutely top notchThis is one of my favorite novels of this year or any year I love everything Joseph O’Connor has done here the structure the characters the story his gorgeous prose It’s deeply satisfying fictionIt’s a terrific theatre novel On the surface it’s reminiscent of O’Connor’s fine prior novel GHOST LIGHT which deals with the doomed romance between playwright J M Synge and actress Maire O’Neill in early 20th century Dublin But for me SHADOWPLAY is the successful novel it’s confident witty and bursting with life and it has emotional depth than the somewhat staid GHOST LIGHTBut the best thing about SHADOWPLAY is how O’Connor gets inside the mind of another writer Bram Stoker It’s a deeply imaginative novel about the process of imagination We read about Stoker’s personal life his frustrations as a writer his sexuality and his long career as manager of the Lyceum Theatre in Victorian London There are also Stoker’s dreams nightmares and fantasies O’Connor takes a lot of liberties to be sure But along the way he ingeniously weaves a tale that brings every part of Stoker’s life interior and exterior together into the formative process that ultimately resulted in DRACULA Stoker’s magnum opus I can’t do justice to how cleverly O’Connor has done this It’s a real tour de forceThe cameo appearance of Oscar Wilde at the Lyceum is worth the price of admission aloneAnd it’s a devilishly good ghost story tooWith that I’m off to begin DRACULA Could it be any other way?


  6. Essie Fox Essie Fox says:

    Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor is a tenderly observed account of the – sometimes surprising – inspirations that eventually led to the creation of what many call the masterpiece of gothic literature Dracula or The Undead written by Bram Stoker is an epistolary novel in which imagined documents form the development of narrative Echoing this style O’Connor shows how Stoker’s work was influenced by certain people by the places and events observed during the years the author spent working as the business manager at London’s Lyceum theatreThe building as we see it first is decaying damp and full of cats Haunted by a ghost called Mina it provides a fine allusion to the castle of Count Dracula With the scaffolding and riggings of the stage the reader cannot help but think about the ship on which The Vampire sailed to England The music from the orchestra the sueaking clarinets and violins provides the perfect soundtrack for this tormented dark production But Stoker also would have read the Penny Dreadful magazines such as Varney the Vampire He would have seen the shocking photograph in which the actress Sarah Bernhardt lay as dead inside her coffin We know he was affected by the mummified remains of a Crusader in an Irish church And then there was his own demise most probably from Syphilis – though O’Connor does not dwell on this Still it is a fact that this infection of the blood was a great scourge for the Victorians Acuired during sex it then led on to cruel disfigurement insanity and even death Sexual desire and predation dominate this book At the time the Ripper’s crimes led to a fevered atmosphere of dread Never cliched or too obvious O’Connor draws upon the blood lust and the spirit of depravity showing how it influenced the horror found in Dracula When the atrocities were going on females employed at the Lyceum were instructed to share cabs at night rather than risk walking alone through London’s filthy foggy streets – a conseuence that leads to the great actress Ellen Terry sleeping inside the theatre along with Bram and Henry Irving; the three members of the trinity on which this story has been based Ellen Terry is a sheer delight witty angelic and alluring almost seeming supernatural when she glides through London’s streets in veils Irving is the actor manager whose dangerously dark good looks and cruelly sardonic wit is charismatic and yet troubling He is certainly the model for the ‘exuisitely corrupt earl” providing words and actions later echoed by The Vampire Very early in the novel when Stoker waits to be invited into the great man’s dressing room the actor tells him “I don’t bite” Later Irving mentions how the two old friends have known each other going on for 700 years There is amusement here and poignancy because of course they’re not immortal In this novel age decline and death are constant and disturbing themes as is the torment of the writer who lives in fear of never being known How ironic that long after they all made their bows to leave this mortal stage the three live on in memories today – their names and work still proving as eternal as The VampireA thrilling construct of a novel exuisitely contrived to show the settings and the characters whose loves and lives inspired the evil decadence and dark despair contained in Stoker’s Dracula A great tribute and a work of art Deeply affecting


  7. Anne Griffin Anne Griffin says:

    An amazing read The language and dialogue are simply superb here It's harsh tender and humorous all in one must read book This tracks Bram Stoker and his life around the time of his writing of Dracula This is a triumph from Joseph O'Connor one of Ireland's true masters


  8. Cathy Cathy says:

    In this fictionalized account of the life of Bram Stoker the author adopts some of the literary techniues of Stoker’s famous novel Dracula including the use of diary entries letters and transcripts of conversations as well as traditional third person narration As Stoker struggles – with limited success – to achieve his literary aspirations some of the fun is spotting names and places that will later find their way into DraculaThe core of the novel is the relationship between Bram Stoker and the bombastic Sir Henry Irving When famed actress Ellen Terry arrives on the scene it creates an even turbulent triangle Poor Florence Bram Stoker’s wife is rather left out in the cold as the Lyceum Theatre becomes central to Stoker’s life Not to mention attending to the whims of Sir Henry Irving an eually all consuming occupation the main ualification for which seems to be the ability to consume large uantities of alcoholI loved the descriptions of the theatrical performances and all the backstage goings on There is a great episode where Oscar Wilde attends a performance and provokes a very raucous after show party The author also throws in some supernatural elements and it’s all set against the backdrop of a London stalked by Jack the RipperThe last uite long section of the book transports the reader ahead a number of years and has a distinctly melancholy tone as age and infirmity catch up with the main characters I found the end of the book poignant and rather movingI listened to the audiobook version narrated by Anna Chancellor and Barry McGovern To be fair the latter does the majority of the narration with Anna Chancellor contributing a couple of sections purporting to be recordings of Ellen Terry’s recollections of Sir Henry Irving These are wickedly funny and delivered in Anna Chancellor’s inimitable style Where Ellen Terry appears elsewhere in the book she is voiced by Barry McGovern rather than by Anna Chancellor even in chapters told from the point of view of Ellen Terry However I can’t fault Barry McGovern’s representation of the rich plummy tones of Sir Henry Irving or the soft Irish lilt of Bram StokerShadowplay is inventive imaginative and full of Gothic atmosphere I can definitely see why it has earned a place on The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2020 shortlist


  9. Samantha Samantha says:

    “Like a lot of thumping good stories it starts on train”So begins Shadowplay a beautifully written surprisingly sweet account of Bram Stoker’s life and perhaps the things that inspired Dracula that were connected to Stoker’s tenure as a theatre manager at the Lyceum First here is what this book is not A vampire novel If you’re looking for a new spin on Stoker’s Dracula this isn’t it I’d suggest Lauren Owen’s The uick or Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian if that’s what you’re after The author does try to connect real life figures in Stoker’s life to characters from Dracula but that’s actually the weakest part of the story in Shadowplay And the book never gives that delightfully macabre feel that Dracula does though the author makes some halfhearted attempts at this unsuccessfully and usually to conclude a section of the storyThe assertion that theater owner and Stoker’s boss Henry Irving was the primary inspiration doesn’t make much sense in real life or in this book All the “ooh he’s wearing a cape and standing in shadow” moments are cute but a reach and the implication that Irving and Dracula had anything in common personality wise at all is downright preposterous They’re both megalomaniacs I suppose but Irivng’s bratty bombast is a far cry from Dracula’s gentlemanly cruelty and subtle menace Oh and Irving for all his faults isn’t anything even close to evil Soooo that’s a problemFar better are the fictional reimaginings of Jonathan and Mina Harker both terrific characters in this story and cleverly drawn with respect to their imagined connections to Dracula And it’s Stoker’s relationships with others not his work on Dracula that really make this book From the volatile and contentious Irving to the sweetly fond Jonathan Harker and Ellen Terry to the creepily bizarre Mina Harper we cant help but adore Stoker’s sweetly exasperated nature and loyalty to his loved ones Other cameos include Florence Stoker who was well drawn in the narrative in a way that allows us to connect it to her real life role as a pioneer in acuiring copyrights for authors Jack the Ripper whose presence looms over the novel for a time and gives us the closest thing to eerie Dracula vibes that the story has to offer and finally fellow contemporary writers like Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw The jokes at Shaw’s expense were kind of funny but Wilde’s presence felt kind of forced He comes up far too often for someone who has no real relevance to the story and you can feel the effort behind the attempt to make the mentions fit the narrative But despite some misses in the allusion department and a too fanciful attempt to connect Irving to Dracula this is a funny beautifully written imagining of Stoker’s life at the theater where he finds what might be considered his true family as well as his place in the world


  10. Kimbofo Kimbofo says:

    Joseph O’Connor’s Shadowplay must be one of the most underrated books of the year It won the Eason Novel of the Year at the 2019 Irish Book Awards but it doesn’t seem to have garnered much attention in the UK or elsewhere And yet this is a truly amazing book one of my favourite reads of the year and deserving of a much larger audienceSet largely in London in 1878 it brims with atmosphere and menace and pure Victorian gothic dramaIt takes real life characters — Bram Stoker the Irishman who wrote Dracula; Henry Irving an English actor and theatre director who was later knighted; and Ellen Terry the leading stage actress of the era — and follows their complicated intertwined lives as they work together at the Lyceum Theatre building a successful season from pretty much nothingAs they battle to keep emotions in check actors are prone to drama after all to balance the books and draw in the crowds it is largely Stoker who holds everything together A struggling writer he did not become successful until after his death he acts as Irving’s personal assistant dealing with his petty suabbles grievances and short temper while also managing the theatre’s financesHis marriage to renowned English beauty Florence Balcombe brings him into high society circles but Stoker is never uite accepted by the upper classes O’Connor paints him as a loyal and conscientious man often derided by others who look down upon himTo read the rest of my review please visit my blog


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