Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Gracelin O'Malley

Author: Ann Moore
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: #1 in the Gracelin O'Malley trilogy
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
First Published: August 2001
First Line: "Campfire flickered in the woods along the far bank of the River Lee."

Book Description from GoodReadsGracelin’s father, Patrick, named her for the light of the sea that shone in her eyes. But joy and laughter leave the O’Malley clan when Gracelin is six-and-a-half and tragedy befalls the family. Less than a decade later, Gracelin must put her romantic dreams aside and marry a local landowner, the son of an English lord, to save her loved ones from financial ruin. Although she is a dutiful wife to capricious Bram Donnelly, Gracelin takes dangerous risks. With political violence sweeping through Ireland and the potato blight destroying lives, she secretly sides with the Young Irelanders, among them her brilliant brother, Sean, and the rebel leader Morgan McDonagh.

Set against the rise of the Irish rebellion, with a cast of unforgettable characters led by the indomitable eponymous heroine, Gracelin O’Malley weaves a spellbinding story of courage, hope, and passion.

Disclaimer My sincere thanks to Open Road Integrated Media and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I've been on the lookout for a great, sweeping historical saga of a read lately and I haven't quite been able to find it.  Until now.

Gracelin O'Malley gives a wonderfully vivid (and often distressing) description of life in Ireland during one of the famines where not only did the Irish have to deal with extreme poverty but utter starvation.  It also describes the horrific cruelty and neglect that England showed to Ireland as they often viewed the Irish as less than human. 

While this story had its heartbreaking moments it was also filled with hope and the amazing tenacity and strength of the Irish to overcome what seemed like impossible odds.  This was a well-researched historical fiction read with the writing having such a beautiful, lyrical quality to it that I found myself easily imagining the characters with their melodic accents speaking the words.

As for the characters themselves, they were well-rounded characters for the most part.  There were a couple, namely Grace's husband Bram Donnelly, who tended to have more of a clich├ęd 'bad guy' feel to him.  But you can't help but root for Grace who is an endearing and likeable main character.  We watch her struggle at such a young age to help her people survive one of the worst famines to hit Ireland as well as the struggle within her marriage and how she fights to stay true to who she really is.  There is a fairly strong Christian theme to the book, which is often what gave Grace the strength to overcome the odds that were stacked against her.  That said, I wish that she wasn't quite so perfect.  For such a young woman she handles herself a little too well and I often had to remind myself just how young she really was.

There is a romance aspect to the book which was admittedly sweet but I felt it was rushed a little too much for my liking.  While it was a fairly predictable read I was always engaged and never bored which kind of threw me because usually when a book is predictable I tend to lose interest.  I think that the plight of the Irish (which probably happened to some of my own family many generations before) is what kept me interested.

This is not a lighthearted book but I appreciate the amount of research that Ann Moore obviously put into this book.  And even though it deals with such a ruthless and depressing era in Irish history you can't help but get a sense of pride, resilience and faith from those who fought so hard to keep the Irish culture and spirit alive at such a dark time.  This is a book about love, dignity, loyalty, tenacity, faith and strength all taking centre stage as two countries battle it out for control of Ireland.  This was a very enjoyable family saga that kept me engaged the entire book.  I am eager to read the second book in this trilogy to see what happens to Grace and her family.

My Rating: 4/5

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