Set mainly in a remote area of County Kerry in the ’40s and ’50s, Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel is at once intimate and epic in scope.
Tam, an English woman in her thirties, has been living in this harshly beautiful region since shortly after the war, in which she served as an auxiliary pilot. She is now leaving her lover, Niall, who, like his father before him, is a meteorologist.
The airliner she is travelling on becomes grounded by fog at Gander Airport, Newfoundland. As she waits, she regards an enigmatic mural, and revisits not only the circumstances that brought her to Ireland but her intense relationship with Niall and his growing despondency over his younger brother Kieran’s disappearance years before.
We learn of Kieran’s troubled childhood and the tragedy that caused him as a boy to be separated from home and taken in by a widowed countrywoman who lives in the mountains behind the town. He comes to know the local people, among them a tailor, a fisherman-teacher, and a sheep farmer who is a great philosopher. There is also the jeweller’s daughter, a young woman who will come to change the course of several lives.
Running parallel is the story of Canadian artist Kenneth Lochhead and how he created the mural that is Tam’s only companion through three long days and nights.
An elegiac novel of emotional depth that vividly evokes a time and a place, The Night Stages explores the meaning of separation, the sorrows of fractured families, and the profound effect of home in a world where a way of life is changing. It is Jane Urquhart’s richest, most rewarding novel to date.
Jane Urquhart’s previous novels are The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away, The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers, A Map of Glass, and Sanctuary Line, all of which have been published internationally. She is also the author of Storm Glass (stories), and three books of poetry. A nationally bestselling author, Urquhart has received numerous awards and honours, including the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Trillium Award, the Habourfront Festival Prize, and Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France.
Praise for Jane Urquhart:
“Jane Urquhart’s writing compellingly depicts the sense of place in human lives.” – Alice Munro
Praise for The Night Stages:
“The Night Stages tells a story at once sweeping and intimate – of love and flight, of brothers and art, and of Ireland. In her crystalline prose, Jane Urquhart creates an emotional story that manages to feel both very real and deeply mythic. A beautiful, moving constellation of people, places, and ideas.” – Jane Mendelsohn, author of I Was Amelia Earhart
“Three stories of love, desire, regret and loss.... By far the most significant love and the most powerful and heartbreaking story is that between the two brothers....Overall is the theme of shattered homes, damaged families and broken lands.... The Night Stages is gripping.”
– Calgary Herald
"The Night Stages is a rich, lush novel with much to mine. Lovers of Away will delight in Urquhart's return to Ireland and will recognize her exploration of what drives emigration, ties that bind through generations of families and the wellspring of grief and loss that nestles inside relationships. For its language alone, The Night Stages will quickly earn its place among Urquhart's other globally acclaimed and award-winning novels. . . . What remains at the end of reading The Night Stages is awe at Urquhart's ability to capture, with such grace, loneliness and the human yearning for connection. Like the brightly painted sugar bowl Tam retrieves from the ruins of the homes her father's company have bulldozed in the name if profit and progress, Urquhart finds jewels of hope within the bleakness of emotional weather that she charts. The Night Stages is another tour de force by this exceptional author." – Toronto Star
"Urquhart has masterfully captured the thoughts of two damaged young men, brothers, who are both striving to make something of themselves.... The Night Stages will likely join (her) highly acclaimed earlier novels, and deservedly so. It is a powerful, observant novel that builds quietly to a fever pitch." – Vancouver Sun
"By the time one finishes reading The Night Stages, all kinds of knowledge will have imperceptively crept up – knowledge about weather, flight and, most of all, the landscape of Ireland's gorgeous, rugged County Kerry. . . . Urquhart's landscapes, in The Night Stages are far from featureless and boring, awash as they are in conflict and misdirected loves. In Urquhart's hands, even the most troubled spaces contain the potential for redemption." – Winnipeg Free Press
“Thought-provoking….Multi-layerd….Urquhart tells a good story….And she is good, too, at spinning her themes, at reminding us of what one character calls the cruelty of departure and the ‘blindness and confusion’ which can be connected to arrival.” – London Free Press
“About the profound mysteries of love and art and creation . . .” – Ottawa Citizen
“A gorgeously written, virtuosic weaving of time, place and characters connected in profound ways. . . . [A] literary triumph.” – Maclean’s