A Novel

Book - 2007
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An Irishman born in 1860 struggles to prove himself to the woman he loves, while at the same time writing the story of his life and that of his country.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2007.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9781400065233
Branch Call Number: FIC Delan
Characteristics: 445 p.


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Jul 07, 2008

Tipperary tells the life of Charles O'Brien, an Irishman, traveling healer, proponent of Irish independence and man of some passion. His story is told by the 21st-century narrator who finds some of Charles' personal effects in an old trunk donated to a library and, curious, begins to research his life.

From with his childhood on an Irish farm and apprenticeship to a local herbalist, we follow Charles to France where he attends Oscar Wilde at his sickbed and also falls in love, and back to Ireland where his life's crowning achievement is overseeing the restoration of an ancient Irish castle fallen into disrepair and ruin. Meanwhile, the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War are transpiring in the background and, on occasion, in the foreground as well.

I found this an enjoyable read, with just a one small quibble. Having the narrator, who punctuates episodes from Charles' life with additional historical information of interest to the reader as well as an account of how his research is progressing, is a bit confusing and somewhat jarring initially. Just as the reader is becoming engaged with one storyline, the perspective changes and one must guess who's speaking. Otherwise, this period in the history of Ireland is fascinating and was almost entirely new to me, having very little idea of Irish history prior to independence. The parallels to slavery in America ? Irish Catholics were forbidden to write and could be deported for owning books ? were a complete surprise. I would definitely read more of Delaney's works.

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