The first of J.G. Farrell’s Empire trilogy is set in Ireland in 1919, when the struggle for independence is about to explode with brutal force.
Major Brendan Archer travels to Ireland to the Majestic Hotel to find the fiancée he acquired on a rash afternoon three years ago. Despite her many letters, the lady proves elusive, and the Major’s engagement is short-lived. But he is unable to detach himself from the alluring discomforts of the crumbling hotel.
Hypnotised by its dim and shabby splendour, surrounded by gently decaying old ladies and proliferating cats, he passes the summer, unaware of the storm gathering outside.
Some 40 years after publication, J.G. Farrel’s 1970 novel went on to win the Lost Man Booker.