Gilded Shadows


book cover



The idea for the trilogy which opens, Gilded Shadows, arose from the preoccupation of contemporary Irish writers with exploring the nature of memory - its manipulation, distortion and repression; the way memory is called upon to conjure traditions and myths, to support grand narratives and, through a process of selective amnesia, to hide uncomfortable truths.


A much admired work is Seamus Deane’s novel, Reading in the Dark, which highlights the inextricable links between the private and the public. The young protagonist tries to unravel the secrets of his family, to recover the memories that have been deliberately concealed. He succeeds, but at a terrible cost.


An all-time favourite is Patrick McCabe’s masterpiece, The Butcher Boy, but it was McCabe’s, The Dead School, which slowly and irrevocably uncovers the personal memories of the events which destroy the two protagonists, that was of interest when writing this collection of short stories.


Neil Jordan, best known for his work in films, has written several novels which deal with the significance of past events on the present and the future, The Past, Sunrise with Sea Monster, and Shade. The setting for the first two novels mentioned - the east and west coasts of Ireland - make them particularly appealing, but it is also Jordan’s use of the metaphysical, his spare but evocative style and his clever use of form that make these works a delight to read.


James Joyce’s Dubliners was the main influence for the eight stories that make up the second part of the collection. The idea was to bring Birmingham to life by exploring the concerns and experiences of a diverse selection of the city’s population and to show the universality of these experiences.

Reviews of Gilded Shadows

‘A lovely piece of writing … a very sure touch.’

Mary Kenny   Author, journalist, broadcaster.

'A beautiful and evocative collection.'  

Irish Post

‘Reveals an acutely observant eye for the intricacies of human relationships, the subtleties of language and people’s intriguing manipulation of past and present … Guardian Angel is a moving tale which subtly tackles our preconceptions about race, foreigners and the unexpected kindness of strangers.’ 

Irish World

‘The landscapes of the South of France — cosmopolitan Nice, the opulence of Monaco, the beautiful hill village of Eze— are an integral part of the [final] story, adding depth and texture.’

UC Magazine

‘The breadth of characters featured makes this collection accessible and enjoyable to all readers.’

The Harp

‘A collection of intriguing tales ... the urban landscape of Birmingham is paid as much attention as the wild seascapes of rural Ireland or the bright prettiness of the South of France.’

Liz Broomfield

'Rarely does a collection of short stories so exemplify our post modern era.  This beautiful collection will bring a knowing smile to those familiar with its varied landscapes.  Rochford skilfully interweaves a shifting narrative perspective in her 'Gilded Shadows' Trilogy; a trilogy which reverberates with the voice and scent of Ireland. In the remaining stories she evokes many individual and idiosyncratic voices interwoven by the themes of memory and the palpable longing to connect.  Disparate immigrant tales powerfully evoke the contemporary cityscape of Birmingham.  Its final resonant note is the magical 'Interlude' which sparkles with the idea of potential rebirth and renewal, playfully engaging with Chagill's artistic musing that..'love made the seemingly impossible possible': an uplifting final note in a collection which will enchant its readers.'

Cara Wheatley Curriculum Leader English and Media

'The short story is not usually a favourite genre, but I enjoyed this collection hugely. Although it is more than 40 years since I was in Ireland, it brought back such fond memories of the place and the people.' 
Rosy  Droar