Critical Context

Immediately acclaimed as brilliant and original, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne was Brian Moore’s first novel. Critics at once recognized that Moore was a superb craftsman of major talent. His portrait of a woman’s mind and soul in agony was considered unusually astute and perceptive, particularly at a time when alcoholism as an illness was not commonly understood. A secondary but also significant achievement was Moore’s uncompromising, unsentimental view of Belfast, the city of his birth, especially of its poor, unattractive sections and its least remarkable, unadmirable inhabitants. These are judgments that the reader makes; Moore simply presents the place and the people without explicit evaluation, without an appeal for either sympathy or contempt. Yet precisely in its unembellished realism, the book bespeaks Moore’s comprehension of his subject and his compassion.