Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O' Connell
Publication Date: July 7, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction
When O'Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother's strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband's son.
Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother's wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O'Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court--making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.
Beyond Derrynane - and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga - will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen "Gaelic Aristocracy" (of which the O'Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.
In addition to Eileen's, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O'Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalizingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.
About the AuthorKevin O'Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O'Connell's own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship. He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre. For more than four decades, O'Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East. Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood. The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.
Beyond Derrynane is one of those historical fiction stories that you hate to put down. A novel written about a family as large as the O'Connell's is an especially interesting read as it is somewhat based on fact. Mr. O'Connell definitely has the Irish trait of being able to tell an interesting story.
As often happened in era's past, the daughters of the family were in arranged marriages as was Eileen. In this case, it was not arranged by her father but by her eldest brother Denis as their father was deceased. Denis only did it to increase the families coffers. His reasoning was that the family was cash poor as they often traded in goods rather than money, but Denis was a mean spirited man and hated his sister.
Eileen did as she was bid and went off to live in the home of a man quite a bit older than she was. Mr. O'Connor was abusive and beat her within an inch of her life but Eileen was able to rise above this and tried to make a life for herself as the mistress of the house and even after awhile came to care about her husband.
Mr.O'Connor dies suddenly and Eileen returns home to Derrynane.
Eileen's mother contacts General Moritz O'Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army who is Eileen's uncle and along with her sister, Abigail, enter the court of Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna and the court quickly becomes home to both. Abigail is close to the Empress while Eileen becomes governess to the Empress two daughters. After awhile they both come to love the Empress and create a happy life for them both.
I really enjoyed this story, as I love any books written about Ireland and its people. The characters were easy to relate to and love. I look forward to reading the next in the series in the continuing life of the O'Connells! If you love and enjoy historical fiction, then this book is not to be missed.
This review is voluntary.
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