Eilís Dillon Howard Boston - Essay

Howard Boston

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The familiar ingredients used [in "The Island of Horses"] might have made a trite yarn, but Eilis Dillon weaves a magic Irish spell and an A-1 mystery-adventure story, taut with action and suspense, results. Characters like Luke the Cat and Granny Conroy are distinctively drawn. The tale sparkles with the atmosphere of the sea and of small-town life along Ireland's west coast.

Howard Boston, "An Unlucky Place," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1957 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 17, 1957, p. 30.

There is nothing tentative about [The Bitter Glass]; it has a rounded excellence which comes from a mature technique and an imagination of high quality….

Without being in the least overwritten or sentimental, this is a most poetical book, and the construction flows so inevitably from the characters that it seems to have no conscious art at all.

"New Fiction: 'The Bitter Glass'," in The Times (© 1958 The Times, London), June 12, 1958, p. 13.

Connemara at the time of the 1922 troubles gives Miss Dillon a good background, of which she makes too undramatic use in The Bitter Glass….

Miss Dillon is an oddly withdrawn writer, touching an exposed nerve of drama as though by mistake, hinting at conclusions which would have given her novel coherence, but too often returning to the typical domestic banalities which seem indispensible to Irish novelists.

Her preoccupation with rural detail is nevertheless … professional….

"Women in Love," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1958; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 2937, June 13, 1958, p. 325.∗

Miss Dillon comes time and again within reach of success. Once more she just fails to grasp it. (p. 142)

Many of the adventures [in The Singing Cave] are frankly improbable, but they are narrated with style and passion and most readers will readily suspend belief. Certainly one would not, for the sake of probability, forego the superb story of the voyage to Brittany on the lobster boat. Fine story-telling with some colourful characters. Unfortunately the whole story turns on the character of Mr. Allen, the local gentlemen, and his is a fundamentally unsatisfactory portrait.

It is tantalising that so good a book, which has its full share of fun and excitement and a serious theme, should not be just a little better. (p. 143)

"For Children from Ten to Fourteen: 'The Singing Cave'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 23, No. 3, July, 1959, pp. 142-43.