Tipperary by Frank Delaney

Charles O'Brien is nine years old when he witnesses a neighboring Irish family being evicted from their home and the house being pulled down as mother, father and three young children run toward the safety of the forest with only the clothes on their backs. The evicted family and their ancestors had worked the surrounding fields for hundreds of years, and the father had lost a leg while a soldier in the King's army, but none of that mattered to the ruling English. What Charles saw that day haunted him for the rest of his days. At his father's urging he wrote the story down and it became the first chapter in what he called his "History".

This is a novel and Charles O'Brien is a fictional character but you will meet some real people in these pages as Charles crosses paths with such well known names as Oscar Wilde, William B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. And behind all of them, behind his training and career as a healer, his persuit of a woman who felt nothing for him but scorn, and the reconstruction project of a castle he had always dreamed of owning is the story of Ireland struggling for independence; Ireland's story is as much a part of this book as Charles'.

The solid, detailed writing is a pleasure to read; the story has lots of twists and turns and brings to vibrant life a period of history that I never get tired of reading. I did find it just a little slow getting started, but I make exceptions for Ireland and it had so much going for it I stayed with it and in the end found it a very satisfying read.

I like the way this book is structured. Sections of Charles "history" alternate with the voice of a present day narrator, entries from Charles' mother's journal and letters written by the woman he falls in love with. There are ten chapters, each separated into short segments that give the reader plenty of places to stop, or maybe make it easier to read just one more section...or two...

Some of my favorite lines from the book...

"'A thing doesn't have to be true', he said, 'for a person to get joy out of it;
what it has to be is not evil or malicious'".

"...he had been born with the poetic advantage of living in a beautiful land."

"Revolutions are born when the drudgery of life aches from 
serving the grandeur on the hill."

I have no idea where or when I got this book, but I recently found another Frank Delaney novel on my book shelf as well. It's about three times the size of Tipperary so I'll have to put it off for a while, but it looks like a great read for a long, cold Maritime winter.

Next up: Heave by Christy Ann Conlin


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