Friday, August 26, 2016

Tipperary by Frank Delaney

genre: historical fiction

When Charles O'Brien sits down to write a history of his life, he starts at his first memory and then moves forward. Throughout his life, Charles' true home was in County Tipperary, in Ireland.  It's where he finds a passion for the land and its people, it's where he comes home to after traveling around the country as a healer.  It's also the place where an Anglo-Irish castle lies dilapidated and abandoned.  For Charles, all of this is also wrapped up in his devotion to one woman and throughout his History he tells a sweeping story of Ireland in the midst of chaotic upheaval and change as well as his own personal experiences as he longs for a woman out of reach.  

"Epic" seems like too grand a term for this book - it's more intimate than that and doesn't cover multiple generations enough to seem to warrant the word.  Like Forrest Gump, Charles O'Brien keeps being in the right place at the right time to witness some very important events and people in Irish history.  Sometimes it's a little TOO coincidental, but I feel like I do have a much better sense of the timeline of the Irish struggle.  The time period, from before the turn of the century to post WWI, was a huge time of change and the book does a good job of making you both sympathetic for the Irish but also frustrated with the way they sometimes are their own worst enemy with the choices they make.  I enjoyed the narrative style that changed from Charles' own written record to that of another narrator who takes Charles' text and gives it context and helps us understand his unreliability about certain experiences. Our narrator shares information from other sources, both primary and secondary,  that flesh things out and also paint a wider picture of the time.  I particularly liked the storyline involving the castle as well as the little mysteries involving Charles and the narrator.

While it didn't change my life, I was entertained, I learned a lot of Irish History and I do feel like I know Tipperary now - and since I have a lot of family that emigrated to the United States from that actual county, that matters to me.  

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