Morgan Llywelyn’s 1949

11 05 2010

Llywelyn’s previous novels in the Irish Century series have utterly blown me away with their nigh seamless integration of exhaustive historical research with compelling, emotive storytelling. They have drawn me into the passionate world of the Irish–a world that history (or at least the horrifyingly revisionist history that is spoon-fed to American children through our oh-so-splendid educational system) has completely ignored.

This one? Not so much…

The research was still present. I learned much about the times before and during the second World War, and I was grateful for the glimpse into the mindset of the fledgling neutral country of Eire; unfortunately the story around the history was decidedly lacking when compared to the previous two installations.

Admittedly, much of my cooling of enthusiasm is probably due to my relative lack of interest in the primary philosophical motivation. In 1916 and 1921 it was all about freedom and national independence and the obstacles that arose to block Ireland’s independence, both from within and without. In 1949, Irish independence took a backseat to Ursula Halloran’s personal independence as a woman, and I found it much less compelling–which is not at all to say that the fight for woman’s equality is any less worthy a goal than national independence! However, it is one that is far more familiar to me, and any sense of personal dissatisfaction I felt can be laid at the feet of that lack of novelty, both philosophically and historically as I am also much more familiar with the time period surrounding WWII, even if I was rather ignorant of Ireland’s role in said war.

Still, it was a very solid book–far better than average–and it in no way diminished my desire to follow Morgan Llywelyn further into the labyrinthine Irish history.

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