Welcome to the series where I will be sharing a selection of book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.
The first review is from 2019. There are some books that engage you from the first page to the last and Mahoney by Andrew Joyce manages that to perfection.
In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a story of determination and grit as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America. From the first page to the last, fans of Edward Rutherford and W. Michael Gear will enjoy this riveting, historically accurate tale of adventure, endurance, and hope.
In the second year of An Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.
My review for Mahoney 2019
There are an estimated 76 million people around the world who claim Irish ancestry with around 42 million in the United States. I am one of those with origins in County Cork at the time of the Great Famine.
This makes Mahoney a must read for all whose roots lie in this small island republic with only a population of 4.5 million today. The first chapters are chilling as we read of the devastating famine, and the treatment by the British, of the already impoverished Irish in those years. But it does lay the foundation for the story that follows, and demonstrates the courage, perseverance and creativity required to start a new life from scratch.
A new life of opportunity was promised in a land that was still in its infancy. Getting there in a Coffin Ship was hazardous. Setting foot in the new land was almost as tough as the one left behind, especially if you were Irish. But you cannot keep a good man down, and Devin Mahoney, descended from the High Kings of Ireland, is such a man. He has to navigate the prejudice and poverty just for the privilege of taking the lowest paid and most back-breaking work, building the new nation’s infrastructure that is about to be torn apart by civil war. We relive those desperate years through Devin’s letters home to his wife as he continues to fight against injustice.
In part two of Mahoney, we meet Dillon who carries the same determination and drive to succeed as his father. The vastness of America beckons and over the following years, Dillon explores the west and experiences the life of a cowboy and gunslingers, before heading to California in search of his fortune.
In part three, the next generation of Mahoneys is in the hands of David. Having been raised with plenty, he finds it hard to relate to his heritage, preferring to immerse himself in the pre-crash high life in New York. But all good things come to an end, and that is when the Mahoney blood within his veins is needed to bring him redemption and new path in life.
The book was riveting from start to finish, painstakingly researched, with wonderfully developed characters that are fascinating to walk beside. There is sorrow and anger at the deprivation, but deep respect for those who are forced to leave their homes to find sanctuary, and a safe place to bring up their families. Not just from Europe but those suffering from prejudice and deprivation in the deep south of America. There is plenty of adventure as well as interesting secondary characters, both good and evil, to keep your attention.
I highly recommend that you read the book and for just a few minutes, imagine your own family history, and how your ancestors overcame their struggles to enable you to enjoy all that you have today.
A selection of other books by Andrew Joyce
Now for an earlier review from 2017 for the short story collection by Mary Smith – Donkey Boy and Other Stories.
About the collection
Shot through with flashes of humour the stories here will entertain, amuse, and make you think. Mary Smith’s debut collection of short stories is a real treat, introducing the reader to a diverse range of characters in a wide range of locations. A donkey boy in Pakistan dreams of buying luxuries for his mother; a mouth artist in rural Scotland longs to leave the circus; a visually impaired man has a problem with his socks; and a woman tries to come to terms with a frightening gift – or curse.
My review for the collection
This is not a long read, but you should never judge a book by the number of pages, but in the quality of the writing. Each story is beautifully crafted and leaves the reader with questions. Not about the outcome of the story, but about how we might have behaved under similar circumstances. In the title story we meet a small boy who has to work for his father rather than go to school. His resentment is natural in a child, as his reasoning over a moral dilemma that becomes even more complicated than he anticipated. For me there was a theme running through all the stories, of a sense of being trapped in situations and circumstances. These included childhood memories laced with bitterness, secrets that if revealed could endanger life, and visions that show the darker side of human nature. I read and enjoyed the novel No More Mulberries by Mary Smith, and highly recommend that you read this short story collection too.
Other books by Mary Smith
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.