The Disenchanted Widow

It’s the summer of 1981. Newly widowed Bessie Halstone is fleeing Belfast with her young son, Herkie. She’s wrongly suspected of pocketing £10,000, the loot from a heist carried out by Packie, her late (and unmourned) husband.

Bessie has plans. She longs to make a fresh start. But first she must reach the safety of her sister’s home in County Sligo, to borrow money for the trip.

She doesn’t make it. Car trouble forces her to sojourn in Tailorstown, a sleepy rural community. Her plans are put on hold as she decides to lay low for a while.

She’ll need cash. She finds work as a housekeeper for the parish priest, a handsome and enigmatic man.

In the meantime, Lorcan Strong, an artist and a native of Tailorstown, is summoned home. With reluctance, he returns to the place that caused him much heartbreak in boyhood.

A chance meeting with young Herkie Halstone leads Lorcan into the world of the disenchanted Bessie—and into a grave danger that has pursued them both from Belfast.

The Disenchanted Widow is an unforgettable peek into small-town life in Ireland’s recent past. It’s a glorious successor to McKenna’s first “Tailorstown” novel, The Misremembered Man.

Praise for The Disenchanted Widow


There are at least two ways to read this story. On is as an Irish prose version of an Italian opera buffa — a tragicomic tale with emphasis on the bumbling comic. The other is as a satire along the lines . . .  of Henry Fielding’s classic novel “Tom Jones.”

~ Washington Independent

I’ve been racking my brain to pounce on at least one minor flaw in The

Disenchanted Widow, Christina McKenna’s riveting account of a new widow and her 9-year-old son fleeing the IRA in 1980s Belfast, and all in vain. So I

have no recourse but to succumb to the pleasures of her prose.

~ The Free Lance-Star

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