A River in the Trees by Jacqueline O’Mahony

Published 2019 Hachette Setting: West Cork, Ireland Genre: Historical Fiction.
1. First lines. 2. Cover Hachette 3. House – country – Ireland [Public Domain] Image by wagrati_photo via Pixabay 4. Irish girl [Public Domain] Image by via Pixabay 5. Sad woman [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
    • This is a story of two women, a hundred years apart – both connected to a farm in rural Ireland. In 2019, Emma has returned to Ireland from England very distressed and with deep personal problems. She has come to look at the house of her ancestors which has been listed for sale in West Cork. In 1919, Hannah lives with her family in the house in Cork, and becomes involved with Irish Nationalists in the War of Independence. As Ellen considers buying the house, she discovers the real extent of her links to Hannah’s family.
    • She’d ridden down to into the river then, and waded down it to the shallow pool where the trout lived, and she and the horse had stayed by its warm banks all the night long with the big heavy moon hanging low over them in the black sky like a warning.”
    • ‘There was so much of Simon and he was so sure of himself and so unshakeable; he moved through his days like a ship moving through an icy sea, breaking through the ice before him, unaffected, untouchable.’
    • Irish Times: “Gripping page-turner depicts hardships old and new”
    • The story moves smoothly between the timelines as each woman’s story is told, but although it is written well, I believe that the format of dual timelines is becoming over-used in historical novels. In terms of originality there is not much that is new, with events becoming predictable as the story progresses. I felt that too much emphasis was given to Emma’s story (2019), which became repetitive, when Hannah’s story of 1919 in the time of the Irish War of Independence was more interesting. There was certainly some beautiful descriptive writing, which anchored the story to time and place.

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