The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan

“You don’t see the connections in your life until it’s too late to disentangle them,” says Alice, a character in Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel. This thought-provoking book is about patterns which are repeated through generations of families and nations. It traces the confluences of the personal and historical, of art and life.

We meet Anne Quirk whose life is built on stories, both the lies she was told by the man she loved and the fictions she told herself to survive. Nobody remembers Anne now, but this elderly woman was an artistic pioneer in her youth, a creator of groundbreaking documentary photographs. Her beloved grandson Luke, now a captain with the Royal Western Fusiliers in the British army, has inherited her habit of transforming reality. When Luke’s mission in Afghanistan goes horribly wrong, his vision of life is distorted and he is forced to see the world anew.

Once Luke returns to Scotland, the secrets and lies that have shaped generations of his family begin to emerge as he and Anne set out to confront a mystery from her past among the Blackpool Illuminations – the dazzling artificial lights that brighten the seaside resort town as the season turns to winter. The Illuminations, the fifth novel from Andrew O’Hagan (, is a beautiful, deeply charged story that reveals that no matter how we look at it, there is no such thing as an ordinary life.

Enquire at your local library or available at

304 pages in Faber & Faber

First published 29 January 2015

ISBN 978-0571273645

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Andrew O’Hagan

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