Monday, 26 January 2015

Of Irish Blood

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly has a long story arc starting in early 20th century Chicago and moving to pre-WW1 Paris, on through the trenches and hospitals of war-torn France, and then on to Ireland and the stormy period after the Easter Rising, through the Anglo-Irish War and then the Civil War.

The book is based on the life of the author's aunt and it was certainly eventful. Nora Kelly is a strong believable character who sees the best in people and this often leads her down difficult and dangerous paths. She is swept along on the romance of Ireland painted by Yeats and Maud Gonne amongst others but doesn't always understand the nuances of politics. .

Nora discovers a whole hidden part of Paris when she stumbles across the Irish College and meets the students, priest and lecturers. One in particular shapes her life and future direction and the romance and tragedy of their relationship frames the plot.

The main drawback I felt was that the author was trying to show off her knowledge of famous characters who lived in Paris during the early 20th century: Chanel, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, Matisse and many more pass fleetingly across the story without really moving it on. Other historical figures are key: Maud Gonne in particular, and these add to the flavour and plot.

If you like big sagas grounded in history this is the book for you!

I received this copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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