Cover image for As it is in heaven
As it is in heaven
Williams, Niall, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
310 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The author of the critically hailed Four Letters of Love returns with a passionate, haunting love story of isolation and renewal in a small Irish town.

Author Notes

Author and playwright Niall Williams was born in Dublin in 1958. He received a Master's degree in Modern American Literature from University College Dublin, where he also studied English and French literature. In 1980, he moved to New York and worked as a copywriter for Avon Books. In 1985, he moved back to Ireland to become a full-time writer. His first four books were co-written with his wife and deal with their life together in Kiltumper, Ireland. On his own, he has written three plays and five novels. His first novel, Four Letters of Love, became an international bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Richly woven with mysticism and melancholy, this is the improbable and suspenseful love story of Stephen Griffin, a shy, naive, and withdrawn Irish schoolteacher, and Gabriella Castoldi, a sophisticated, artistically passionate yet emotionally distant Italian violinist. Williams' first novel, Four Letters of Love (1997), received widespread critical acclaim for its moving story of love and hope told with spiritual overtones and thoughtful characterizations. This tale follows along similar lines, yet it is rendered in a far more somber, even downcast tone. The intensive brooding gets to be almost overbearing at times, but it is balanced by an aura of magic, eloquent sensitivity, and the dramatic unfolding of this unlikely love's consequences not only for the lovers, but for an entire cast of intriguing characters. With his lush descriptions of the music of Puccini, Mozart, and Vivaldi as well as lingering looks at Ireland's hauntingly beautiful green hills and forbidding rocky coastline, Williams creates a stirring setting for this serious exploration of the themes of family and friendship, companionship and loneliness, and desolation and redemption. --Catherine Sias

Publisher's Weekly Review

Williams, a gifted Irish writer, was known only for nonfiction until his first novel Four Letters of Love reaped a chorus of praise (including a PW Best Books accolade) a couple of years ago. Now he has tried to repeat the trick, but unfortunately the freshness that leaped from the pages has become mere practiced calculation. His hero, Stephen Griffin, is a dim young man declining into premature senility as a history teacher, whose life is transformed by the rather improbable arrival of a beautiful but deeply unhappy young Italian violinist, Gabriella Castoldi, to play a concert at a little West Ireland hotel. Griffin is struck dumb with passion; since symptoms of magic realism abound, smells of white lilies and a general glowing aura convince those around him he is in love. Gabriella, emerging from an unhappy affair, decides to stay on in Ireland; Griffin meets her again and they have a fling; she goes back to Venice and finds she is pregnant; he follows but cannot find her; she comes back; finally, they carry out the wishes of an old blind seafarer (shades of Under Milk Wood's Captain Cat) and build a beautiful little music school by the sea. Williams is a felicitous phrasemaker, and he conjures up some lovely poetic images of weather and seascapes. Passages about the ineffable beauty of music and the emotional impact it can have are touching. But the sense of delighted surprise that was so constant in Letters is notably absent; the story is far more rigidly structured, and the characters, from Stephen's poor dad dying of cancer and trying to give his money away, to a chirpy lady who keeps a greengrocer shop and knows what fruits to sell for all ills of the heart, are tired clich‚s. There are pleasures here for those who enjoy the equivalent of a beautifully photographed, sad movie, but Williams had seemed capable of much more. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having lost his mother and sister in a car crash at an early age, Stephen Griffith is so deeply reserved that he practically disappears into the woodwork. But then one day he spots violinist Gabriella Castoldi in performance and is transformed by an overwhelming love. Gabriella, who came to Ireland with a boyfriend and promptly fell out of love and refused to leave, isn't quite as bowled over by Stephen but is glad enough to launch a liaison. On this slender strip of a story, Williams constructs a whole, top-heavy novel. After Four Letters of Love (LJ 7/97), Williams's thoughtful and enchanting debut, this second work comes as a shock: it's a sticky, sentimental mess, terrifically overblown and portentously yet conventionally written. Buy only where soppy love stories flourish.ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.