Rich with description, action, and history, this novel recounts the brutal events in Ireland during the Easter Rising from the point of view of a likeable and sympathetic character. I learned a lot of information from the research Llywelyn put into this. It is always amazing to read about an outnumbered few becoming motivated enough to take on an entire country. Recommended for history buffs and lovers of all things Irish.
Marci S. (MarciNYC) reviewed 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion (Irish Century) on
Helpful Score: 8
I must admit, when the book started off with Ned Halloran surviving the Titanic disaster, I wasn't expecting much from this book. However, as I read on, I started to enjoy the book and the story greatly. It's the first fiction book I've read with footnotes (at least as far as I remember).
This is the story of Irishman Ned Halloran - from 1912 to 1916, culminating in the Easter Rising and then subsequent executions of the leaders of the rebels. It taught me a lot about Ireland and has me wanting to read more in this series as well as historical tomes on the history of Ireland and how she came to gain her independence from Great Britain.
This is a powerful novel of the events surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin Ireland. The book opens in 1912 as Ned Halloran and his parents are on a journey from Ireland to America to visit Neds sister Kathleen. Fate has intervened and they make their voyage on the Titanic. Ned survives the sinking, however his parents as well as new friend Dan Breen, are all lost to the sea.
Kathleen and her fiancé, Alexander Campbell, urge Ned to stay in New York but his heart is in Ireland and he returns to County Clare and his family farm where his older brother and two younger sisters are left to mourn the loss of their parents.
Meanwhile, Lord Inchpin of nearby Dromoland Castle, to make up for what young Ned has been through, has offered him a rare opportunity for a farm lad from County Clare further education at a private school in Dublin. The school chosen turns out to be St. Endas, the school run by Padraig (Patrick) Pearse, south of downtown. Pearse, as those familiar with early 20th C. Irish history know, is one of the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising. This is a fictionalized account of events leading up to that fateful week.
Ned interacts with many historical figures during this time including all the principals of the Irish Rebellion in which he becomes a courier for the eventual heroes. During this time, too, he runs into Sile (prounced Sheila) Breen, Dans sister, who has run off to Dublin and is how working in the worlds oldest profession. The naïve Ned isnt aware of this at first and is, instead, stunned by her beauty although he is side-tracked by another woman he clearly has a crush on. Important too, is secondary character Henry Mooney, the young journalist from county Limerick Ned meets on the train on his way to Dublin.
Even though the reader may already be aware of the events of April and May 1916 in Ireland, the emotions evoked by this novel, become very real as if they happened yesterday instead of 85 years ago. Llywelyn portrays the Pearse brothers, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Thomas Clark, James Connolly, Sean MacDermott, Thomas MacDonagh, and others in such away as the reader feels the same love for Ireland and has the same desires as they do.
In the sequel to this book, 1921, Morgan Llywelyn has one character say to another "History tells what happened; literature tells what it felt like. This is exactly how I feel about 1916. Despite reading history books relating the events, reading this novel has made this very personal. I could feel the pain of these characters, I could feel their fervor and enthusiasm for the cause they believed in, and in the end I could feel the need to keep the memory of these brave people alive as the country fights for home rule and freedom from British oppression.
When you are finished reading this book, and I highly recommend that you do, pick up the sequel 1921, which relates the events of the next six years in Irelands struggle for independence and although it is Henry Mooneys story, it does feature Ned in a very big way.
Theres no better compliment I can give a novel than to say it not only made me think, made me want to read everything I can get my hands on, and wish to visit the historical sites in Ireland including the GPO, Kilmainham Gaol, and other locales mentioned in the book. Llywelyn has made this very easy with the maps in front of the book showing the locations of these places. Also helpful is the list of characters, both fictional and historical, in the front of the book. She adds several pages of notes and a selected bibliography at the end. Read this book FEEL history.
I love Morgan Llywelyn writting, and I love the books all the more because I am a history buff and rarely (if ever) have I found myself disappointed by the accounts of history in her books. In most books that deal with any sort of historic fact or events I find myself frustrated or thrown off track in the middle of reading and loosing focus in the book because of inaccuracy or misfact. This can really detract from the experience of a story when your mind is yelling "no that's wrong", "no the time sequence is off- that hasn't happened yet", "no that was invented yet, this isn't realistic" or etc... since I don't have this issue with Llywelyn's books I'm able to sit down and really enjoy the creativity, story, depth of charactors and depth of emotion she spins into her writting.
Fictional characters mingle with historical ones, witnessing and taking part in the events leading to the Easter Rising in Ireland. Quite readable, and makes me look forward to reading the remaining books in the series. An easy way to be entertained and learn some history at the same time, but can be read simply for the story, as Llywelyn always seems to tell a good story. Some dialogue seems a bit forced, and events a bit too coincidental, but this can be forgiven; much popular fiction is far worse.
If you like historical fiction, you'll enjoy this book. Morgan Llewellyn wrote a series about members of the Halloran family, focusing on key events in modern Irish history. This book is the first of the series. Although it's called 1916, it begins in 1912. Young Ned Halloran is travelling to the U.S. with his parents to attend his sister's wedding. They're booked on ... the Titanic! This part of the book was very moving as are other passages that describe events such as Bloody Sunday. If you read and enjoyed the Kent Family Chronicles, you'll enjoy this book and perhaps want to go on (as I do) and read the others in the series: 1921, 1949, 1972 and 1999.
If you are interested in the Easter Rising, this is a great novel. Fictional character Ned Halloran observes firsthand the history-changing events. I love history but am often bored by straight non-fiction accounts. I loved it.