Irish America's Book Reviewsby Irish America columnist
- When Ireland Fell Silent by Harolyn Enis
- John Barry-An American Hero in the Age of Sail by Tim McGrath
- Tabloid City by Pete Hamill
- Solace by Belinda McKeon
- Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney
Harolyn Enis’s When Ireland Fell Silent tells the fictional story of the Reilly family of Mayo, Ireland through the eyes of 18-year-old Liam Reilly. Spanning the years 1845 to 1847, the tale follows the Reillys as they struggle to stay alive and keep their home
As most school children know, John Barry was an American Revolutionary War hero who is generally recognized as the “Father of the U.S. Navy,” but after that, the details get fuzzy.
Tabloid City is the latest iteration in Pete Hamill’s series of love letters to New York City. His books, which also include Snow in August, Forever, and North River, may not be tied together by time period, protagonist or genre, but they all share Hamill’s mastery at portraying the city where he was raised and has spent his whole life.
Belinda McKeon's debut novel, Solace, begins right in the middle of things. Not in a fast-paced way, but slowly, with a sense of sadness and the implication that something has happened. We find Tom Casey, a farmer, and his adult son, Mark, baling hay together in vaguely companionable silence.
Hannah Robinson is opening a cupcake shop just as her relationship with boyfriend Patrick turns sour. Semi-Sweet, Irish author Roisin Meaney’s first U.S. release, traces seven months in the lives of the residents of the small Irish town of Clongarvin. After Patrick leaves Hannah for another woman, she channels all her anxieties, disappointments, hopes and wishes into chocolate ganache and meringue, lemon zest and buttercream. Hannah’s spirits are also buoyed by the unfailing support of her mother, Geraldine, and her best friend Adam, who is struggling with a mysterious, unrequited crush of his own. Meanwhile, a stranger with a sweet tooth appears with a taste for Hannah’s cupcakes and company. Things are far from pie in the sky, however: Geraldine’s friend Alice has a husband with a drinking problem that’s a recipe for disaster, and when heartwrenching tragedy casts a shadow over Clongarvin, its residents must find a way to face the consequences.
Writing as his more accessible nom de plume Benjamin Black, Irish novelist John Banville has added a fourth installment to his acclaimed and well-received series of suspense novels about Dr. Quirke, a pathologist in 1950s Dublin with a tendency for getting caught up in the murders of the bodies he inspects – and a dangerous talent for solving them.
Sebastian Barry, one of Ireland’s most successful playwrights and novelists, is at his best when he is writing about those who find themselves marginalized in the new Ireland as it emerges from under the yoke of British. And in his new book, On Canaan’s Side, we once again find him dealing with characters whose lives are swept up in the changing tide of Ireland’s independence.
MacDonogh’s book is a fascinating trip into the genealogical past of a president. He gives life to people centuries gone, making it easy to forget as one reads that this is a story leading up to a political milestone. The pictures throughout the book are the perfect visual component for readers to latch onto as the generations proceed from Offaly to Ohio, from Hawaii to Washington. – Tara Dougherty (288 pages / Brandon Books)