A young Jewish violinist from Holland falls hopelessly in love with an Irish painter called Gael. She leaves her aristocratic husband, marries Gael and they eventually move to Ireland with their son.
But she is unprepared for a life of poverty, and struggles with the anti-Semitic sentiments she encounters. As Gael grows increasingly her refined upper-class background hasn’t prepared her for the poverty of life with Gael, nor for his brutish behaviour. She also encounters anti-Semitic sentiments in Ireland, and struggles to reconcile this with her past, and that of her parents in particular, who are Holocaust survivors. Her desperate attempts to maintain a semblance of normal family life while still pursuing her career become more and more impossible as Gael grows increasingly delusional and violent.
This is at once a moving love story and a brutal portrayal of a destructive marriage that comes to a devastating end.
About the Author
Judith Mok was born in the artists' colony of Bergen in the Netherlands. She studied singing at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, and at 21 became a professional soprano. She has performed worldwide and has produced numerous recordings. She has published three collections of poetry and two novels in Dutch, and writes regularly for the Sunday Independent. Gael is her first novel written in English. She lives in Dublin.
'There is much to admire, not least the lyrical writing, which at times creates a dream-like atmosphere. Throughout, different narrative perspectives are employed: first and third persons voices, and different characters, too, tell their story from their own vantage point. Each voice and perspective intensifies this consciously impressionistic prose. And, as one might expect from an author immersed in music, this is a work intentionally layered with references to musicians and composers, as well as painters and writers ... In a modern world where feeling and emotion are frequently contained and packaged for safe consumption, the kind of raw passion and danger on offer here is certainly worth engaging with.' Derek Hand, The Irish Times