Thursday 5 March 2020

A Discovering Diamonds review of Mahoney by Andrew Joyce reviewed by Cathy Smith

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Family drama
19th Century/Early 20th Century
Ireland and United States

"Joyce has done an excellent job using his characters’ weaknesses to help readers see the strengths that the Mahoney men use to overcome their own personal demons."

With a journey that begins in 1849 Ireland and ends in 1963 Washington DC, Andrew Joyce takes readers on the epic adventures that span the lives of three generations of the clan Mahoney. Perfectly titled, Mahoney starts with the life of Devin Mahoney. Devin narrowly survives the Potato Famine (1845-1849), then emigrates to America, only to find the dream life he was initially expecting is not going to be so easily acquired. Born in Philadelphia, in 1860, Dillon Mahoney builds on his father’s legacy, tragedy prompting him to leave Philadelphia. Dillon heads out west, eventually finding his way to Los Angeles. Then, in 1895, Dillon’s son, David, is born. Privileged and spoiled, David sets in motion a series of events that eventually helps him discover the grit and strength of his bloodline.

Family is a common theme that is the foundation of many well-written, historic dramas. Because Joyce understands the power of family, he masterfully weaves the history of a nation into the lives of the father, the son, and the grandson. Joyce’s use of the current events from each family member’s time period allows him to build unforgettable characters whose experiences move the story forward through generations.

Mahoney is not the story of three perfect men, and this is one of the reasons why Joyce’s novel is relatable to his readers. It is through the flaws of each character that their convictions are realized. Joyce has done an excellent job using his characters’ weaknesses to help readers see the strengths that the Mahoney men use to overcome their own personal demons. As a reader, it was easy to relate to the three main characters and the people who helped shaped their stories.

Although the stories of the men provided readers with a sense of the family values that were carried on through each generation, it felt like there could have been more development of David’s story. As I read the epilogue, I had mixed feelings about the end. Even though the story provided closure, I would have loved to have seen the epilogue developed into the fourth part of the story that built on what was next for the future generations of Mahoneys.

Mahoney is a page turner that reads like a prime-time mini-series. Rich in history, the saga of the Mahoney clan is a story that portrays the growth of a nation. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see the evolution of the United States as seen through the eyes of an Irish immigrant and his descendants.

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Cathy Smith

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