Prisoner in a Red Rose Chain

Jeffrey Moore

Winner of The Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book
Qspell Literary Award Finalist

Prisoner in a Red Rose Chain

It is by no means clear just how much control Jeremy Davenant has over his own destiny. For he is convinced that the blueprint of his future already exists – on a page ripped from a random book. Romantic, fatalistic, quixotic, he blithely teaches with forged credentials at a Montreal university while waiting for his life to unfold. And unfold it does – one glance from a dark lady in the street below, and his life veers into chaotic mischance and obsession.The trouble is, the world is full of signs for Jeremy. The Page – ripped out of an encyclopaedia and given to him by his Uncle Gerard – is supposed to chart out his life; which explains why the Zulu tyrant Shaka, the Indian love epic Shakuntala, and the city of Shakhtyorsk in the Ukraine all start to feature in his life – along with William Shakespeare and, of course, his Dark Lady.

But Milena’s life (not to mention her sexual identity) requires as much decoding as the Page, and Jeremy stumbles after her into farce and – for a brief spell – bliss.

‘A lively, clever, entertaining, heartfelt, emotional rite of passage. Moore’s satirical view of academia has real bite. His ability to craft engaging scenes with witty dialogue and solid character work promises well for the future.’ Publishers’ Weekly

‘Reminiscent of early John Irving.’ The Guardian

‘Confident, amused and amusing.’ The Observer

‘A sparkling first novel… It is a clever book, dense with literary allusions, but also a heart-warming one, with a thoroughly likeable hero, as romantic as he is accident-prone. The extravagance of the plot is matched by the exuberance of the writing … literate, literary fiction, but without a hint of academic mustiness.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘ Exuberant and smart… signals the arrival of a new sophisticated comic author who combines John Irving’s inventive virtuosity with Tom Green’s contempt for everything stuffy and comfy in our culture. The architecture of Moore’s novel is superb. He casts some surprisingly fresh aspersions upon academe and establishes a voice that’s both ornate an deadpan.’ National Post


  • Thistledown Press (initial edition); paperback Penguin Canada
  • Weidenfeld & Nicholson UK
  • Penguin Putnam USA
  • Serpent a Plumes France
  • Editions de la Pleine Lune Quebec
  • Eichborn Germany
  • Prometheus NL
  • Marcos y Marcos, Italy
  • Acantilado Spain
  • Empiria Greece
  • Bertrand Editora Portugal
  • Prunsoop Korea

Material: finished copies (391pp)