THE FLAMING CORSAGE (1996)
The eminent critic Harold Bloom wrote, “The Flaming Corsage transforms the [Albany Cycle] into what Ruskin praised as ‘stage fire’ in Dickens. At once prose-poem, historical novel, and theatrical melodrama, Kennedy’s new book demonstrates an exuberance beyond his previous work.”
"Filled with precise details of Albany’s vanished life, narrated in a prose both salty and exact. . ."
— Kirkus Review
Kirkus Review offered this about The Flaming Corsage: “This latest installment in Kennedy’s ambitious Albany Cycle returns to, and deepens, many of the themes central to the series: the wayward nature of the human heart, the manner in which grief, regret, and enduring need shape and often remake family life, the way in which art, at its best, can clarify and transform life’s losses and pain … At its center is yet another vibrant, tragic couple: Edward Daugherty, a brilliant playwright, and his equally headstrong, melancholy wife, Katrina. Surrounding them is a cast of other distinct and startling figures: Francis Phelan, Katrina’s lover and a hero of Albany’s working-class Irish community; the talented, self-destructive journalist Thomas Maginn; and Melissa Spencer, a gifted, conscienceless actress who becomes Daugherty’s lover and sets in motion a murder/suicide that comes close to destroying Daugherty.
“The long, unremitting effort of Albany’s Irish population to seize power from the governing elite is never far from the action: Daugherty, given a start in life by a wealthy benefactor, uses his plays to celebrate the resiliency of the Irish and lampoon the Dutch and English who rule the town. That theme, however, never predominates—the long struggle of Edward and Katrina to cope with a series of deaths and betrayals gives the novel its shape and narrative drive. Filled with precise details of Albany’s vanished life, narrated in a prose both salty and exact, catching the vigorous cadence of spoken English, this is the most impressive entry in the Albany Cycle since Ironweed.”
The Flaming Corsage was published in France, Spain and Sweden.