Kilroy, Claire 1973-

views updated

Kilroy, Claire 1973-


Born 1973, in Dublin, Ireland.


Home—Dublin, Ireland.


Writer and novelist.


Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award shortlist, both 2004, both for All Summer.


All Summer (novel), Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.

Tenderwire (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.


Irish novelist Claire Kilroy is a resident of Dublin, where she was born in 1973. In her first novel, All Summer, protagonist Anna Hunt wakes up in a barn in Ireland, her memory a jumble of names, events, and images. She has no idea who she is, how she ended up in the barn, or who she was in the past. She does know, however, that she bears an unusual scar under her eye, and that she has in her possession a suitcase full of money. As the novel progresses and her memory becomes more stable, she recalls being involved in an art theft with a man called Kel. She slowly begins to connect the scar under her eye to Kel, realizing that she lost her memory when he inflicted the wound on her. Soon, she puts together more connections between herself, the stolen painting, and her abusive lover, Kel. Worse, her slowly resolving memory shocks her with the knowledge of what she has done. "There are several sudden, satisfying, and, for the most part, surprising twists in the tale, including the one in the very last line that reveals this to be not so much a crime story as an excruciatingly complex and powerful love story," observed Jill Hinkley on the Mystery Book Blog Web site.

Kilroy's novel Tenderwire is her "taut, confident American debut," commented a Publishers Weekly critic. In the book, Kilroy "deftly combines elements of suspense, a contemporary love story, and a beautifully articulated sense of the lure of music," noted Barbara Hoffert, writing in Library Journal. The novel's protagonist, Eva Tyne, is an Irish expatriate and a brilliant concert violinist. At an important performance with the New Amsterdam Chamber Orchestra in New York, Eva suffers a very public collapse after turning in a stellar solo. She is rushed to the hospital, but refuses to face the reasons behind her physical troubles. Overworked and severely stressed, she knows that her relationship with live-in lover Krystof must soon end. Her life plans are accelerated when she meets a moody and darkly handsome man named Daniel at a local bar. Soon, she has ended her relationship with Krystof and has taken up with Daniel, a wealthy investment banker and financier. Another seemingly random encounter injects an intense obsession into her life. Alexander, a scruffy Russian, offers to sell her a magnificent violin, a true work of art and an unsurpassed musical instrument. Eva depletes her father's legacy and puts herself at risk of financial ruination to raise the 600,000 dollars to buy the violin, which she names the Magdalena. With this exceptional instrument in her hand, Eva's reputation as a musician soars, and she finds herself with invitations to play at coveted venues throughout the world. However, other problems mount after she buys the Magdalena: she suspects Daniel of sleeping with her best friend, Valentina; Daniel's own motivations become doubtful; and a old Jewish woman who meets her after a concert suggests that the Magdalena was stolen by the Nazis during the Holocaust. "While it's a stretch to believe that Eva has sold her soul to own the Magdalena, her love of music and her desire to play the Magdalena are wholly believable," commented Debbie Lee Wesselman on the Mostly Fiction Web site.

"A solid debut, this novel should gain some American fans for its Irish author," remarked Wesselman. Though finding some fault in some of the book's metaphorical connections between Daniel and the Magdalena, a Kirkus Reviews contributor nonetheless concluded, "The novel's flaws do not compromise its striking beauty." Kilroy's "prose is wonderfully evocative of Eva's world of cities under winter snow, ornate concert halls, grubby bars and cheap fast food restaurants," commented Faye L. Booth in an AuthorsDen Web site review. "Delightful, character-capturing sentences are strewn throughout" the novel, Booth remarked further. London Times reviewer Alice Fordham concluded that "Kilroy's writing is dramatic and lyrical by turns and the exotic features are just colourful background for a good and substantial yarn."



Irish Independent, May 10, 2003, Pat Boran, review of All Summer, p. 9; June 3, 2006, Cora Venus Lunny, review of Tenderwire, p. 19.

Irish Literary Supplement, Volume 27, number 1, fall, 2007, Mary Burke, interview with the author and review of Tenderwire, pp. 22-25.

Irish Times, May 10, 2003, John Kenny, "Summoning the Occult Powers," review of All Summer, p. 10; June 3, 2006, Anne Fogarty, "Many Strings to Her Bow," review of Tenderwire, p. 13.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of Tenderwire, p. 315.

Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Barbara Hoffert, review of Tenderwire, p. 67.

Publishers Weekly, April 3, 2006, review of Tenderwire, p. 40.

Times (London, England), June 25, 2003, Margaret Reynolds, review of All Summer; June 10, 2007, Alice Fordham, "Pulling the Right Strings," review of Tenderwire.

Times Literary Supplement, May 30, 2003, Stephanie Cross, review of All Summer, p. 25; August 18, 2006, Carol Birch, "An Imp of Perversity," p. 25.


AuthorsDen, (July 3, 2007), Faye L. Booth, review of Tenderwire.

Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery Web site, (January 8, 2008), biography of Clair Kilroy.

Mostly Fiction, (August 26, 2006), Debbie Lee Wesselmann, review of Tenderwire.

Mystery Book Blog, (September 17, 2007), Jill Hinckley, review of All Summer.

Pat Boran Home Page, (January 8, 2008), review of All Summer.