This book has a very interesting, thought provoking premise, although it is (intentionally?) very similar to other works in the dystopian genre, namely A Handmaid’s Tale. I thought Hannah was an excellent protagonist and really enjoyed her journey from meek, sheltered fundamentalist to a strong character who learns to question her basic beliefs and those of society. Overall the book had a very strong beginning and solid middle, but the ending was disappointing. An event that occurred towards the end of the book seemed to come out of left field, and I thought Hannah’s actions were totally out of character. Also, I was waiting for Hannah to realize that her reverend was not a good person and to have some sort of confrontation with him and was disappointed when this never happened. Even though I mostly agree with the author’s political views, I wish she had been a bit subtler about presenting her agenda and allowed the reader to come to their own conclusions.
I was at first very nervous about reading this book at first because all I knew about it was that it had been compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude, which is one of only a small handful of books I’ve never been able to force myself to finish. I was very pleasantly surprised, because I absolutely loved Galore from start to finish. This is an extremely well crafted book with beautiful language; a dreamy, almost otherworldly quality to the writing; and characters that are tragic and complex, particularly the women. My only complaint would be that since the story has so many characters, (and I did have to refer often to the family tree, especially in the second half) I got more attached to some than others and was sorry to see them disappear from the book. This book has no central protagonist and jumps around in time and from character to character. While I think that might bother some people, I thought it was one of the best things about the story. I found the entirety of Part 1 to be a bit more compelling than Part 2 because it dealt more with the folklore and history of the area while Part 2 is more modern and very much part of the 20th century, although I enjoyed both. This is one of the only books I’ve read that caused me to put the book down for a moment midway through and think “Wow, this is a fantastic book” and then go back and re-read passages because I didn’t want it to end. All in all, I absolutely loved this book and would highly recommend it. I plan on looking for more of the author’s books as well.
I really enjoyed this one. It is a sweeping saga of the Kelly family who survives the potato famine in Ireland and makes a new life in Chicago. It is a bleak story at times but one of survival and human triumph as well. I found all the characters to be realistic and I really cared about them, particularly Honora, Michael, and Maire. The horrors of the potato famine and the absolutely inhumane treatment of the Irish by their English landlords were well told, although the author does tug at the heartstrings a bit too much. The book is also full of Irish legends and stories that add a touch of magic and enchantment to the story. I did find the first part of the story that takes place in Ireland to be more engaging than the second half in Chicago, but it was a good read all the way through.
The plot was a bit convoluted at times, but it was mostly a fun read with lots of action and courtly intrigue involving some familiar faces from the Tudor period interspersed with some purely fictional characters. The story was extremely unrealistic which bothered me a bit. For example, when Brendan first comes to court he is depicted as the quintessential farm boy/country bumpkin, but within a matter of hours he has met Princess Elizabeth who trusts him with her life immediately and has become a spy with sensational sword fighting skills, etc. While it’s an expected transformation in fiction, there was little to no actual transition period, and it did not feel organic or believable in such a short time period. Also the romance felt a bit rushed and the character of Kate a bit too modern and clichéd. I did think the writing veered into the juvenile at times as well. I did like the portrayal of the historical characters such as Elizabeth, Mary, and Robert Dudley, and appreciated that the author managed to make them both complex and somewhat sympathetic, especially Mary, who usually fairs pretty badly in depictions of the Tudor period. For some reason, I found myself liking the real historical characters significantly more than the fictional ones. All in all, this was a fast, fun read for someone who enjoys action and royal intrigue in the Tudor period but is not too fussed about realism.