Historical background: In 1897, Ireland consists of 4 provinces. Munster (South), Leinster (East), Connaught (West) and Ulster (North). All of Ireland is under English rule. The two main religions are Roman Catholic and Protestant. Catholics are in the majority in all provinces – except Ulster.
Setting: Northern Ireland 1905-1924. In Ulster, where Eileen O’Neill is born, power rests in the hands of the Protestants. Eileen is Catholic. Home Rule is being discussed, a program to allow Ireland its own parliament within England and Ireland. But World War I stops the movement except for rebellious Irishmen who want Home Rule. Eileen, caught up with her boyfriend, enters the fray.
Glenlea, County Armagh, Ulster, Ireland, 1905. Eileen O’Neill is part and parcel of a typical Irish farming family. Her mom, her dad, her brother Frankie and new baby sister Lizzie live in peace and if not abundance, self reliance. Da has painted the house yellow to celebrate an ancestor’s 100th birthday. The Music Men come and play, along with Da on his fiddle. The Music men are old family friends and musicians, including Terrence, who carries a large secret. As Eileen moves through her life, Ireland makes drastic changes and she flows through them. Instead of marrying the man she loves, Owen Sheridan, she allies herself with rebel James Conlon, and they join the resistance. Owen is on the other side, the side of the loyalists. Eileen has to work in the mills to support James, yet always asks Owen for help when her attitude gets her into trouble. The Sheridan family owns the mill.
Eileen changes, realizing her mistake in marrying James. Ireland changes along with her. She, James and Owen are part of the uprising Irish and loyalist Irish who partake in the monumental changes that Ulster rides into. Always, it has been Eileen’s dream to get back the Yellow House where she and her siblings were raised and where times were simple and good. When her mother leaves permanently with Jack, her brother, after her sister Lizzie dies of scarlet fever, she and her father lose the house. When Eileen realizes that Lizzie is alive and living in America, she reels from shock. The county hospital had sold Lizzie when she was brought in with scarlet fever. In the surprise ending, Eileen buys back her house and falls back in love with her damaged family and embraces her damaged country.
If you like historical fiction, with great flourishes of families destroyed and remade, this is a classic.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
The Yellow House: A Novel is available for purchase from Amazon.com for $10.17
Thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing this title for our book review as well as this giveaway. We were in no way paid or compensated for our opinions.
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