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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Monday, January 30, 2017

Taylor Takes No Sides-Just Keeps a Tally --In Only Wounded

Only Wounded: Stories of the Irish TroublesOnly Wounded: Stories of the Irish Troubles by Patrick Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Will this book resonate with the reader? It depends on how wounded -- emotionally, physically, spiritually--the persons living through the Irish Troubles for over 30 years are and how much it matters what the wounding is. There is sadness to fill more books than this little book of short stories but these are sad enough. It matters not, whether the lives are Catholic or Protestant that are damaged. The greatest sadness is the cruelty of the soldiers on both sides. The anger and hatred that the English choke hold brought to the surface of the Catholic Irish hearts and retaliation against that hold are overwhelming, So many innocents --children and women, primarily whose men took sides and waged bloody attacks randomly, sparing no one, including those of their own persuasion in a blinding war that no one would win. The heart grows heavy with each tale, the eyes weep for each wound and the head sometimes rages at the mindless inhumanity. In case the story itself did not make an impact, Taylor ends each with several incidents that occurred in the year and a running tally of the deaths for the year and the total for the span of the 30 years just covered. By the end of 1994 there were 3268 dead--who knows how many only wounded.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Irish Tempest--Not Very Exciting Until the Last 50 Pages

The Irish TempestThe Irish Tempest by Elizabeth J. Sparrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although the title is The Irish Tempest, it is not clear if it is meant to refer to the spoiled, headstrong Lacey, who irritated me completely, or to the Irish attempt to gain independence from Britain. If the latter, there was certainly very little about the Troubles. Although the bulk of the book revolves around the relationship between Lacey and Court, the relationship between their two families was rather murky. This earlier section is sweet and pastoral, it is repetitious and doesn't really explore the Raj in India and Irish soldiers in a British Army, nor does it spend much time on World War I and any impact it may have had on Ireland or the families of the story.
Lacey's relationship with Ran and Court's with Katherine are strange undeveloped plot lines. Some characters are not mentioned for so long in the narrative, that I forgot how they fit in the story. I finished reading the book, because it was pleasant enough reading. It finally picked up speed and became interesting at the end when the RIC and British started to truly go at a war to decide Ireland's fate. The story ends at the point where Britain is trying to get either Collins or de Valera to take a deal and the family has suffered loss of family members and possessions and appear to be leaving for America. There is to be a sequel. I hope there is more depth to the story and less scope in time.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Kinky--An Irish Country Girl

An Irish Country GirlAn Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I started this series with a giveaway ages ago for a book midway through, and loved it, the series really is far more enjoyable starting at the beginning. The story of the main character, Dr Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly and the village of Ballybucklebo with its various inhabitants, human and otherwise is simply a delight and builds from the first onward. This fourth book is a bit of departure, in that it focuses on the life of Dr O'Reilly's housekeeper, Kinky. Patrick Taylor, himself a doctor who hails from Ireland, brings the reader into Irish life of the 60's and medical life with ease. So, it comes as no surprise that he is able to keep this story closely aligned with the book that came before, which ends as Dr O'Reilly, his lady friend, Kitty and his assistant, Dr Laverty, return home to the Christmas dinner that Kinky is preparing throughout this book as she goes back in time to her days as a mid-teen girl in a family of two sisters and two brothers. We see Maureen O'Halloran, as a student and progressive young woman, who wishes to finish her education and become a teacher. She wants to marry but is in no hurry and hopes that when she does she will be able to continue teaching. We are transported back to the late 20's to a farm in Cork, where Irish folklore and belief in fairies is alive and well. Kinky tells the local children a story of the Saint Stephen's Day Ghost. When the children leave, we find that Maureen's sister was in love with Connor MacTaggart who crossed the dark fairies and was never allowed to rest--playing ghostly pipes and appearing to Maureen as a filmy spectre, unseen by the rest of the family, but her Ma. We meet Paudeen Kinkade the man Kinky met and married and we learn how it is that she now is widowed all these years later and working as a housekeeper, far from her ould home in Cork.
After this story, though Kinky is the nickname given her by Paudeen, in my mind's eye there will always be a shadow of Maureen OHalloran lurking behind Kinky in future visits to Ballybucklebo.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tune In: The Young Beatles!!

Tune In: The Beatles: All These YearsTune In: The Beatles: All These Years by Mark Lewisohn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a delightful book, if very lengthy. Not a complaint at all since the writing is delightful and if you are, as I am, a devotee of the Beatles and their music, the length will not be a drawback to reading this book. Each of the four young men who were to become international stars, as well as some of the other musicians who fleetingly performed with them, either in groups that were the precursors of the final four or in other configurations, are followed from their earliest school days to the lip of fame in Germany as well as Liverpool. Since I am a contemporary of Paul, John, Ringo and George, I found myself thinking back to where I was and what I was doing as they were growing up in grimy Liverpool and stretching their wings into the exciting world of Rock and Roll. Weren't we all running home after school with the newest 45 and sitting on the floors of our bedrooms and playing the newest Holly or Elvis etc record over and over again? For some, it was too get down the chords on a guitar, for others it was too get down the lyrics to sing at the top of one's lungs. We all know the public Beatles and even some of the background of these men. Here we are invited into their homes and introduced to their family members. We are transported to the halls of their schools and the streets and buses of their youth. We stand by John's side as he meets Paul, through a mutual friend and then with Paul and John as Paul brings along the unbelievably young, George, to be accepted by John as lead guitar. We learn of Ringo's success as a drummer with another local band and his addition to a group that badly needs something besides a guitar. We are privy to the formation of lyrics and music of rejected songs and those that became hits. All in all, though we fans thought we knew those cute boys who changed our musical taste forever, we hardly knew them at all!
I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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