Read As It Is in Heaven Online
Authors: Niall Williams
Tags: #FIC000000, #Romance
It was a season of love in the afternoon; of slow time and long caresses, of strawberries… passing from mouth to mouth like
the wet, ripe and softly bruised essence of pleasure itself…
Lyrical prose and lush imagery have earned Niall Williams international acclaim. His first novel,
Four Letters of Love
, was selected as one of the Most Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. Now this gifted author offers a tale of
dreams granted and stolen, of life given and denied, and of love as everlasting on this earth…
Time has already stopped for Stephen Griffin when he moves into the little house by the sea. Twenty-eight years old and haunted
by death, the tall, awkward, shy schoolteacher is content to care for his father in Dublin and let life pass him by.
Then a miracle appears: a string ensemble from Venice and, with it, a violinist named Gabriella Castoldi. Even though the
worldly, beautiful musician seems incapable of giving her heart, love seizes Stephen Griffin… unbidden and shaking every particle
of his spirit.
Stephen’s ailing father sees it and fears for his naïve son. Nelly Grant, the green-grocer, predicted it and welcomes its
sheer joy Moses Mooney, the blind musician, has sensed its coming. None, however, can envision the depth and consequence of
this union. For Gabriella will change not only Stephen’s life but, in the deepest sense, the lives of everyone around them.
AS IT IS IN HEAVEN evokes the magical essence of romance and its miraculous ability to grace even the darkest life with light.
Splendidly crafted and charged with poignancy, it firmly establishes Niall Williams as a master storyteller in the grand tradition of Irish literature.
was born in Dublin in 1958. He is a playwright and the author of four books written with his wife, the artist
Christine Breen, about their life in County Clare with their two children.
A Featured Alternate of The Literary Guild and of Doubleday Book Club
To learn more about this book and author, visit our Web site at
Jacket design by Flag
Jacket photograph by John Heseltine
Four Letters of Love
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1999 by Niall Williams
All rights reserved.
Hachette Book Group
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New York, NY 10017
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First eBook Edition: August 1999
For Chris, who made the garden,
and for Deirdre and Joseph,
who play the music in it
“… on earth as it is in Heaven.”
“… ma gia volgeva il mio disio e’l velle
si come rota ch’igualmente e mossa,
l’amor che move: i sole e l’altre stelle.”
“… as a wheel turns smoothly, free from jars,
my will and my desire were turned by love,
The love that moves the sun and the other stars.”
Criticas Adore Four letters of Love
There are only three great puzzles in the world, the puzzle of love, the puzzle of death, and, between each of these and part
of both of them, the puzzle of God.
God is the greatest puzzle of all.
When a car drives off the road and crashes into your life, you feel the puzzle of God. You feel the sharpness of its edges
fall on top of you and know the immensity of the puzzle from the force of the life being crushed out of you. You want to lift
the pieces and throw them away into the darkness. You feel the chill of loss, the drafty air, as if the walls of your soul
have been knocked down in the night and you wake to realize that you are living in a vast exposed emptiness.
When the man driving the car turns out to be a drunken priest who receives only minor injuries, you wonder if God was ever
there at all, or if the puzzle itself was your own invention to excuse the existence of the random and the brutal where they
crisscrossed our days.
Philip Griffin wondered. He wondered what crime his ten-year-old daughter could have committed, what grievous error she had
made that had drawn the priest’s car upon her that afternoon. What fault could his wife, Anne, have been guilty of as she
drove into Ranelagh to collect rosin for her daughter’s half-sized cello? In the weeks and months following the accident Philip
Griffin asked the questions and could arrive at only one answer: there was none. The fault was his own, the judgement had
fallen not on them but upon him. For it was the survivor who suffered. In the weeks following the funeral of his wife and
daughter he had scoured the burnt bottom of his soul for the myriad failings of his love—the days he had said nothing, had
returned from work with some bitterness and left the children doing their homework, telling them to leave him alone when they
came with copies, raising his newspaper like a drawbridge and retreating inside the loveless world of facts and news, until
a knock came on the room door and he walked out to tea; the evenings he did not tell them he loved them but told them only
to go to bed and be quiet or he’d be cross. He searched out each of his failings and then concluded that they were so numerous
it was perfectly clear why God had smote his life with suffering. Understanding that was the only way he was able to continue
living, for in his eyes his living with the hurt was a kind of cleansing. Mary and Anne were in heaven awaiting him, and he
would be there to join them one day, when he had done whatever he could for his remaining child, Stephen; when life had at
last purged his sins and cancer would arrive.