I thoroughly enjoyed this historic-fiction novel by Tim Vicary, my first experience of this author. Set in a politically divided Ireland in the early nineteen hundreds and backdropped by the First World War, it stages politics, class, and romance and demonstrates how the three just don’t mix.
Catherine is a single-minded, obstinate, and determined young girl, the daughter of a wealthy colonel. Sean is a fanatical young man, dedicated to the IRA and its elusive leader, Michael Collins. Their attraction to each other is fated: they are separated by class, and Catherine has to balance her tenuous loyalty to her father with her love for Sean, who is being sought by the police for murder and hopefully to lead them to Michael Collins. Exasperated and under pressure to find both men, the British government is brought in, and Catherine’s colonel father enlists the stern and lonely Andrew Butler, a hero of the war, to find and assassinate Michael Collins. But the path to the success of this is hampered: how is that their fugitive is always one step ahead of his pursuer?
This was a compelling story. One occasionally forgot the era in which the story was set: there was a modernness about some of the characters that perhaps was a little incongruous, but actually, this was what I really liked. The author didn’t overpower and bog it down with excessive historic detail. In fact, his words were carefully chosen throughout to keep you focussed and glued to the plot. There was no redundancy of words, nor lack thereof. The book was tense, very well conceived, and gripping and kept you on edge to the end. I loved the contrast provided by Catherine and Sean, both committed to their own ambitions, separated by their backgrounds, but bound by their passion.
I very much liked this author’s style and his story-telling ability and will certainly look forward to reading more by him. I thoroughly recommend this.