Monday 28 October 2019

No Hero's Welcome by Jeffrey K. Walker

shortlisted for Book of the Month

"The historical aspect of the period and the rise of the IRA was spot on for interest; not overdone with the detail, and as far as I am aware, accurate. "

(Sweet Wine of Youth Book 3)

Fictional Saga

"The horrors of the First World War devastated many a Dublin family and the Brannigans weren’t spared. Struggling to get past their heartache, the family finds itself divided by both the rebellion against British rule and the wide Atlantic. Devoted matriarch Eda Brannigan witnesses her family unraveling. Sean and Molly make startling choices with potentially lethal consequences. Francis steeps in a drunken angry stupor. Young Brandon is so eerily quiet. Eda desperately wishes her beloved firstborn, Deirdre, wasn’t living so far away. But with a determined resolve, Eda soldiers on in her bustling pub, The Gallant Fusilier, where tragedy, triumph and even love unfold. Can this family endure the violence and intrigue of the Easter Rising, the bloody struggle for independence, and a bitter civil war?"

I had not read the first two in the trilogy - my misfortune (and one that will be remedied) for this was a superb read, even without the pleasure of the other two novels, None of us the Same and Truly Are the Free.

WWI and the Irish uprising is the setting for the Brannigan family and their heartbreaking struggles. These were fictional characters but Mr Walker made every one of the characters who populated his novel so very, very real: their thoughts, their motivations, their hopes, dreams, fears, triumphs, disasters - their lives. Eda, the mother I was especially drawn to, but Sean and Molly were just as captivating. The entire cast were people I came to know and care about, just as I would with real-life neighbours and friends. I was there with them in the pub, The Gallant Fusilier, sitting quietly in the background with my drink almost forgotten as I eavesdropped on the conversations and the unfolding drama of a tale superbly told. 

The historical aspect of the period and the rise of the IRA was spot on for interest; not overdone with the detail, and as far as I am aware, accurate. I clearly remember the  IRA bombings of London (very nearly got caught up in one myself: I left earlier than intended and was safe on the underground: ten minutes later I may well not have been here to read this book or write this review). Reading this novel helped me understand the Irish Troubles, an understanding that many of us Brits simply do not, or cannot, grasp. I would actually go as far as to say that this trilogy should be compulsory reading for all UK students studying this period of conflict.

Add to all that, the story was absorbing and the writing was superb.  

© Anne Holt

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  1. As a thorough enjoyer of the first 2 in the trilogy, I'm eager to dive into more of the Brannigan story in the next few weeks!


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