Flight of the Earls, Heirs of Ireland Series #1
Stunning Irish historical
It is the rare book that stuns me with its opening line. One sentence in, and I know this book would be a treat.
"Most days blended into the grayness of Liam Hanley's life, but this particular one haunted, a brooding prophetess tormenting the potato farmer with visions of his precious dream succumbing to the Irish downpour of misfortune, washing out his aspirations in familiar brown rivulets of defeat."
Those words from author Michael Reynolds set the tone for the rest of the story: one of hope, disappointment, desperation and survival. And the beauty of the opening line is no fluke. Flight of the Earls is filled with poetic prose that carries the reader along like a gently flowing river. Reynolds conveys scenes with such clarity I could see the farm in Ireland, the belly of the ship, the overwhelming poverty in New York.
As the blight that would become known as the Great Famine in Ireland reaches their small farm, Clare Hanley, her brother Seamus and neighbor Pierce are sent away to America to seek a better life for them and the families they leave behind. They soon learn that their prospects have been exaggerated and they join the ranks of the other Irish immigrants in the Five Points area of New York. Their story is one of survival, adventure, friendship and love.
I'm in awe of debut novels that are this good. I'll be eager to read the next two stories in the series. The sequel, In Golden Splendor, is available now. The third is yet to come.
If you're a fan of Irish history, I think you'll like this one.
October 30, 2013
Must Read for History Lovers!
My interest in this book is: the Irish story. I love Riverdance, the movie Far & Away, and have studied the Irish Mafia for many years. This book fit right in!
Ideas expressed/message/plot: This book puts you in the midst of what it would be like to be Irish and to travel to America in 1846-47; the Five Points, NY; TRUE love; overcoming.
Favorite characters, quotes/lines: "Seamus realized Ireland was in every town."
When I finished this book I felt: Thick with thoughts of God. Truly, this book is not the typical Historical Fiction that I usually read, thus it took me a while to settle in. And settle in I did! I read a lot of Romantic Historical fictions (think Chick-Flick style) and this was much more a Drama/Saga. (Saga: a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents ). The first half of the book was like looking at someone's snapshots of historical records and pictures. The first half set the stage for the story that really took over about 1/2 way through. However, the setting of the stage is a beautiful weaving of tapestry that makes this book what it is. I will have images of this story floating through my mind for years to come.
Well done Michael! I'm in love with your story and can't wait for the next!!! I really loved Seamus' story~could feel his pain and understand why he behaved as he did. I felt for him. Can't wait for July to read [[ASIN:1433678209 In Golden Splendor: An Heirs of Ireland Novel]]
Overall: It depends what you're looking for in a historical fiction. If you are looking for a cute, fun (chick-flick) story that simply takes place in a historical period or setting...this is not that (think Deeanne Gist, Kaye Dacus, Jamie Carie, Colleen Coble). If you want something that gets your hands dirty with the history, then this is your book! I felt the hardship, felt the struggle, both internal and external, because Michael placed before me situations that caused me to wonder what I myself would do or feel. I really think that those of us who love chick-flicks should give this one a read because, though different, it is an impacting story; a great book.
Full Fledged 5 Stars! This is a book I would recommend to anyone teen+, especially those who love history.
I would highly recommend this be required reading for anyone teaching/learning about this era!
October 29, 2013
A Captivating Read
Flight of the Earls starts in 1846 when the potato famine hits in Ireland. Brother and sister, Seamus and Clare, leave their Irish homeland for a better life in the United States of America. Clare settles in New York City where she faces many obstacles, tragedy, secrets, and love. Is this new home where she finds happiness that she was looking for when she left her precious Ireland?
Michael K Reynolds does a fabulous job with this debut and first installment of the Song of the Shenandoah series. His vivid descriptions of how hard it was for the Irish during the famine and trying to make America their new home. Their story was emotional, intriguing, captivating, and stunning all in one. I couldn't ask for a better historical fiction that tells the story of my Irish ancestors.
I loved the main character, Clare. She was such a strong woman, who had to overcome so much. She's someone you could really admire! I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of this series.
I highly recommend this stunning novel! I promise you will NOT be disappointed. 5 stars.
October 27, 2013
A rare gem in the Christian fiction field
Based on Irish immigration in the 1840s, Flight of the Earls by Michael K. Reynolds is the first book in the Heirs of Ireland series. From the Great Potato Famine in Roscommon, Ireland, to the poverty and corruption of Five Points NYC, to the war with Mexico in Veracruz, this novel captures the indelible spirit and hope of the Irish people. Flight of the Earls is a rare gem in the Christian fiction field.
It's obvious that Michael is a talented author who writes from the heart in this saga that follows two members of the Hanley family as they leave their beloved homeland of Roscommon, Ireland due to dire economic conditions, and sail to what would surely be a land of opportunity that would save their family back home. Michael has a wonderful ability when it comes to creating complex characters that the reader cares about and conveying a sense of place through his elegant prose filled with vivid descriptions.
I have always loved all things Irish, so I enjoyed Michael's description of the Irish people - the spirit that shone above their suffering and devastation. One particular scene on the boat stands out where, in spite of the indescribable conditions in steerage . . . "A man with a fiddle began to play tunes of Ireland, tunes of joy and the unshakable resolution of its people. They sang and some danced, lifting their skirts, locking arms, and spinning as the crew trimmed the sails and looked down from above."
Clare Hanley is a strong character who takes on burdensome responsibilities, yet she yearns for the inner contentment and peace that she always saw in her Grandma Ella. Clare's brother, Seamus, seems to easily find misfortune, often from his own doing. "My father always said I was worthless. I spent my life proving him right."
New York's Five Points area played such a huge part in this narrative that I felt it became a main character. Believing they would find in America a land of great wealth and opportunity, these Irish immigrants discovered themselves in an area that was quite the opposite, yet hope was never extinguished. One of Clare's friends, a prizefighter named John Barden, says: "I love the Five Points. The newspapers don't speak kindly of her. They see the beggars, the poor, the beaten, the homeless, the drunks, thieves, and whores. But I see a place full of good people, short on blessings, but full of hope and courage. I see a place groaning for its chance to prosper. Only to be kicked down when it tries to rise to its feet. Sounds like the Irish, don't it?"
I loved the way hope is shown through another character, Andrew, who works for his father's newspaper, the New York Daily. Passionate about wanting to do more than just write about poverty, Andrew pursues his dream of a ministry house that would feed, lodge, and teach skills to those in need . . . "A sanctuary from the cruelties of this life. No one would be turned away, and each would know their comfort would be provided by the grace of God."
Flight of the Earls is a historical novel filled with realism and emotion, a people of resilience and hope, and superb storytelling. I highly recommend this novel to all readers.
The second book in this series, In Golden Splendor, has recently been released. It continues the story of Seamus.
This book was provided by B&H Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
July 23, 2013