Book: Ireland Awakening by Edward Rutherfurd (also published as The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga Book 2)
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Arrow Books
Publication date: 2006
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Summary: Ireland Awakening begins during the Reformation and ends after the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. The story is told through the multi-generational experiences of several families, each representing different aspects of Irish culture. We follow descendants of Irish princes who share the Catholic faith with the “Old English” — settlers who arrived before the Reformation and didn’t transition to a new religion just because Henry the Eighth said so. We see newer arrivals from England bringing various Protestant religions. The complicated alliances and conflicts between these groups ebb and flow, not always along the expected lines of religion and heritage.
Thoughts: The size of this book is daunting, but I wasn’t very many pages in before I was entranced and didn’t want to put the book down. I was particularly grateful for the length when it got me through the entire seven and a half hour flight from Dublin to Chicago.
Irish history is complicated. This book, better even than the history book I read (Book Review: A Traveller’s History of Ireland), helped me grasp it. Stories about how representative people were effected by the various events made the history more real, even though the book is fiction.
I enjoyed the parts that touched on sites that we saw — the Battle of the Boyne, the Georgian townhouses in Dublin, the General Post Office. My favorite parts shed light on what it was like to live during Ireland’s most conflicted times. One father raised his eldest son to be Protestant and his youngest to be Catholic like himself so that they could protect the family no matter which way the wind was blowing at a particular time. Devastating events like the potato famine or war-time deaths are balanced by more hopeful moments of marriage and birth and triumph. Ireland is a country of survivors.
Appeal: This is a great book to take on a trip to Ireland or to read before you go. I want to go back to read Dublin (aka The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga #1) about the earlier history of Ireland.
Challenges: This is book 6 of my Ireland Reading Challenge. I only signed up for 4 books, so I’m going great on that one!
Would you read a book like this that is 900 pages long?