The struggle of the Irish people for independence is one of the epic tales of the 20th century. Morgan Llywelyn has chosen it as the subject of her major work, a multi-novel chronicle that began with 1916, continued in 1921 and which she now brings up to the mid-century in 1949. In this compelling book, Llywelyn tells the story of a charming young woman, Ursula Halloran, who comes of age in the 1920s, and experiences the passions and pains of the times in a way that brings them alive for every reader. The horror and tragedy of civil war give way to a repressive Catholic state (led by Eamon De Valera), in which married women cannot hold jobs, divorce is illegal, and the IRA become a band of outlaws still devoted to and fighting through the 1920s and 30s for a Republic that never lived. Ursula remains an idealist believing in Ireland, fiercely independent. She falls in love, bears a child out of wedlock, and in the war years finds fulfillment running her family farm in neutral Ireland. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
During the period covered in Llywelyn's third magisterial novel (after 1916 and 1921) in her Irish Century series, from the island's division into the primarily Catholic Free State and the mostly Protestant Northern Ireland in the early 1920s to the creation of the Irish Republic in 1949, the outside world changes much while Ireland changes painfully little. Avoiding such stock Irish themes as the "curse" of drink and emigration to foreign and unwelcoming shores, the story focuses on the indomitable Ursula Halloran (adopted daughter of rebel Ned Halloran, introduced in 1916), a young woman who first works for the Irish radio service and later the League of Nations. The unwed Ursula discovers how oppressive the new Catholic state can be when she becomes pregnant and must flee the country. Eventually, Ursula must choose between the two men in her life, one an Irish civil servant, the other an English pilot. The melodrama is mitigated by the poignancy of her forever losing the man she truly loves. Moving as well is Ursula's aiding a Jewish man who brought his children to Britain for safety on the eve of WWII and is returning to Nazi Germany, where his wife still resides. Well-realized characters and a vivid history make for richly gratifying reading. (Mar. 3) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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