Not until I'd read a few chapters did I become keenly involved in the story. After that, I was always eager to read more and sorry when I had to leave off reading in order to do other things. So, the book is one that I did ultimately value as "a Good Read."
At first, I was a bit confused with the number of characters presented, had trouble remembering "who" the recurring names referred to, which child was a little brother or relative or what?, which female name designated the grandmother? or the mother?, and so on... Overall, throughout the book, I felt the two male main characters had greater reality for me than the one female main character, and yet it seemed as if she was meant to be the one main character in the story with the two boys being subordinate main characters. I just couldn't get a clear sense of her personality. Had trouble figuring out, "Well, is this girl a "spit-fire," as this passage seems to indicate, and yet I don't seem to remember that she was characterized as such from the beginning...?" I couldn't get a sense of her "spirituality," and her turn to greater faith seemed like an insignificant event when it did occur. I couldn't discern to what extent her "faith" did make a turn and begin to become more "real" in her life. Of course, I loved the dear Christian man who fell in love with her. He was an ideal hero for the fairly likable heroine. (I think I could have liked her better if her "character" and some consistencies of personality had come across to me more clearly.) Some of the minor characters were vivid and interesting.
The story gave me insights into some features of the Irish suffering centered around the potatoe famine that I'd never encountered previously. Was glad to have acquired that historical information from the book, plus also the glimpses into features of the Mexican War. For instance, the actual role played by the San Patricios.
The story starts out in Branlow, County Roscommon, Ireland. The year is 1846, and the people and the land are suffering due to the potato famine. Many left their homes in hopes of a better future. Some stayed and barely survived, but many starved to death.
Clare Hanley, her brother, Seamus and their friend, Pierce were chosen by their families to go to America, the land of opportunity. The plan was to get jobs to send money home to their families.
The voyage was very difficult, and their arrival in New York disappointing. The stories they heard about the abundance of employment and wealth were false. There were many poor and starving people trying to make a living.
Disappointment and heartache were constant companions for Clare, Seamus, and Pierce. Dealing with unscrupulous people, trying to survive, and worrying about family in Ireland gave the reader a graphic picture of what life was like during that time in history.
This is the first book in the Heirs of Ireland series. It took a while to hold my interest as there were so many characters, but I soon became engrossed in each of their fascinating stories
Disheartened, oppressed, and impoverished, Irish potato farmers sought deliverance from the plague of the potato famine by sending family members to the land of plenty. Illusions of wealth and the promise of plentiful jobs in America lured countless numbers of Irish immigrants to New York City. Unknown were the unpleasant conditions found on board the ships en route to America, and a false sense of security that was literally shattered upon arrival in the "land of plenty." Deceived and destitute, the revelation that they had exchanged one wretched situation for another was disheartening.
Michael K. Reynolds has created a compelling masterpiece of legendary historical fiction! Powerful and dynamic, the details in this novel reveal the depravities experienced by Irish immigrants upon arrival in a country that represented promise and hope. What lay ahead for the characters in Flight of the Earls was deception, the scarcity of productive jobs, lack of adequate housing, filth and squalor in the streets, and danger lurking in the darkness of the city.
I experienced the impoverished countryside and the rotting potato fields of Ireland, endured the gut wrenching travel by ship overseas to America, and the gutters of New York City through the voice of this powerful author. Flight of the Earls is an impressive full length novel to be experienced and appreciated for its richness in detail and the depth of character represented. Penned with incredible depth and rich detail, this novel is an experience in reality. I highly recommend this captivating novel, and recommend that you allow yourself to become immersed in the diversity highlighted in this creation. Descriptive and compelling, this novel is outstanding!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
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.