😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
This very fine novel is so well written and accomplished that it’s hard to believe that it is the author’s first.
Victor Lennon, hero of the failed Easter Uprising of 1916, returns to his home town in Armagh to look after his drunken father at the behest of Stanislaus, the local priest. Through the microcosm of this small town, we are shown the various tensions existing in Irish society at this period – the iron rule of the Catholic church, those who desire independence from the English, those who are fighting alongside those same English in WW1, those who, like Victor, are inspired by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia to bring about a socialist republic.
But although there is much about religion and politics in this book, the author manages to keep it on a very human level. We see the growing strength of Victor’s relationship with his father, the tension between his love for Maggie and his dedication to his cause. We come to understand his antipathy to the Church in general and to Stanislaus in particular. On the other hand, we are also shown Stanislaus’ genuine concern for the moral welfare of his flock, his fears of what revolution may mean for the Church and his courage in standing up for his beliefs.
The author does not openly favour one side over the other – what we see are two fundamentally good but fallible men driven by circumstances to battle for the hearts and souls of the people. The use of language is excellent, in some parts almost poetic. There are a few occasions when the author falls into an anachronism, but not often or badly enough to spoil the flow of the story. I found the book uplifting in parts and deeply moving in others. A first-rate debut novel which I hope will be followed by many more. Highly recommended.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.