This prize-winning epic romance opens with the young Irish girl Kate running away across the Donegal strand, panicked, from her young lover?s first (attempted) kiss, then, after a tumultuous reappraisal by the great Congo river, finds she must spend her life seeking.
Searching for him she encounters some very realistic people and situations on earth, but also must visit hell, where she suffers greatly, a dream-filled paradise, and Columba?s great heavenly archive.
At agonising cost she saves her dying love and to her utter joy they walk together toward heaven. But at the gates he walks on, forgetting her, and leaving her, distraught and alone, in the dust as the gates close behind him. He in turn searches for her and at last finds her, but to his fury (and renewed hurt) is not ecstatically recognised and thanked. And the gates are still shut.
On a secret back way to heaven guided by a little beetle, Kate repeatedly saves her still scornful love, but at the very last, despite Kate’s fatal inability with numbers and through an ultimate sacrifice, he saves her from the precipice and they reach heaven. Kate finally realises that although her quest for her love was not vain, in the end something more was needed for she had to find herself ? the unexpected pearl.
The novel, poetic, riddling, multi-level, and born in sleep and dream, is interlaced with the ambiguity between this world and another. The epilogue again brings out the key themes of the novel ? the eternity of love and the ever-puzzling ambiguity between dream and reality.
The first edition of Black Inked Pearl, the first published of Finnegan?s distinguished Kate-Pearl series and in its way both a stirring romance and a spiritual parable, has won many prizes and positive reviews (for which see the first edition). Its unusual style sets it apart – disliked (fair enough!) by those who prefer straightforward prose and a clear linear, account, but relished by those who warm to more literary, poetic and sonic expression influenced by such writers as James Joyce, William Faulkner, Gerald Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and, extensively, Homer.
This second edition, revised, corrected and somewhat enlarged from the 2015 version, includes an extended account by the author of its unusual genesis.