About the Book
Damage, Josephine Hart's debut novel, an international bestseller, filmed with Jeremy Irons and Julliette Binoche, now takes its proper place as a Virago Modern Classic. Here is one of the most chilling explorations of physical passion and dark, obsessive love ever written.
'A remarkable first novel of awesome acomplishment and quite stratling psychologival insight' Ruth Rendell
'Lorca say somewhere that "the poem that pierces the heart like a knife has yet to be written", but I felt that kind of knife dangling somewhere in Damage' Ted Hughes
'Genuinely frightening in its ruthless intensity' Sunday Times
'A chilling, implacable work of the erotic imagination' Independent on Sunday
What we think
“Some books just have to be read. Damage is a masterpiece, brutal in its simplicity, brilliant in its breadth, it will completely capture you from the very first sentence. Stylish, sexy, compelling. You just have to read it.”
'Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.'
Short and very sharp, this is an incredible story of jealousy, desire, passion and how they can tear lives apart. But it's also - strangely - hopeful, moving and uplifting. Written sparsely, few words are wasted and I would defy anyone not to be caught up in its electrifying prose from the first lines on:
'There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.
Those who are lucky enough to find it, ease like water over a stone, on to its fluid contours, and are home.'
I first read it as a teenager and it's one of the books I hold responsible for capturing me as a reader and taking me from reading young adult books to reading (very!) adult books. Interestingly, I was caught by its dark danger but managed in my innocence to miss the racier moments - which I still think are rather unexplicit - and only when returning to read it in my twenties and then this year did I become fully aware of them.
Josephine Hart's great passion in life was poetry. She founded the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour which had the greatest actors of the day reading the work of the greatest poets who've ever lived. Upon her death last year from ovarian cancer, her husband, Lord Saatchi, founded the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation in her memory. Her love of poetry is so clear in how her words sing from the page. The foundation has given copies of her book in celebration of poetry 'Catching Life by the Throat' to every secondary school in the country and are choosing a poem to feature in the back of each of the World Book Night editions.
Long before World Book Night was ever imagined I was giving 'Damage' to people to make them fall in love with reading. It is still one of my favourite books, powerful, scintillating, passionate and haunting and I don't think anyone can read it and not be touched in some way by the experience. It is a book I can not more highly recommend (whether you think it's your sort of book or not) and all I can say is please, please read it.
Julia Kingsford, World Book Night Chief Executive
More by Josephine Hart
Fiction: Sin, Oblivion, The Stillest Day, The Reconstructionist, The Truth About Love
Poetry: Catching Life By the Throat, Words That Burn
Born in 1942 and raised in Mullingar, Country Westmeath, Ireland, one of five children, Josephine Hart was educated at a convent boarding school in Carrickmacross. Josephine's childhood was tragic: by the time she was seventeen two of her siblings had died of illness and another brother killed himself in an explosion while experimenting with chemicals.
Joshephine came to London when she was twenty-two; she joined Haymarket Publishing, eventually becoming its first woman director. In the late 1980s, she founded the Gallery Poets group and the production of Let Us Go Then, You and I, about T.S Eliot, boasted a six week run, the first ever for a poetry programme, at the Lyric theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. She produced a number of West End plays, including the award-winning The House of Bernarda Alba by Lorca and The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch.
She published Damage, her first novel, in 1990.Translated into twenty-six languages, it sold more than a million copies worldwide, and was filmed by Louis Malle, staring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Bionche. She wrote another five novels: Sin (1992), Oblivion (1995), The Stillest Day (1998), The Reconstructionist (2001) and The Truth About Love (2009).
To the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour at the British Library in London, she brought leading actors and artists - Charles Dance, Juliet Stephenson, Edward Fox, Roger Moore, Bono, Kenneth Cranham and Dominic West, to name but a handful - to read WH Auden, Sylvia Plath, WB Yeats, Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, Rudyard Kipling, among others. Cathcing Life By the Throat (2006), her book inspired by these evenings, was given, at her expense, alongside the audio edition, to every single secondary school in the UK. Words That Burn followed in 2008.
In 1984 Josephine married Maurice (now Lord) Saatchi, with whom she had a son, Edward. She had another son, Adam from her first marriage. She died aged sixty-nine in June 2011.