Saturday, March 18, 2017

Review: Jennifer Roberson’s THE IRISHMAN – Superbly Told Story of an Irish Chieftain’s Love for Ireland and a Highborn Sassenach

I knew when I read Lady of the Glen, Roberson’s poignant love story set in the time of the Glencoe Massacre in the Highlands of Scotland that her earlier work, The Irishman would be a treat. And it was. Oh, my.

Set in England in 1617, this is the story of Elizabeth Stafford, a baron’s daughter raised in Kent and, through her father’s wrangling, given an appointment in King James’ court as one of Queen Anne’s ladies. Before she ever gets to court, however, a carriage accident puts her in the clutches of Kieran O’Neill, last of the royal Irish family of the O’Neills, who has come to England on a secret mission he hopes will win his country’s freedom.

What can I say about a proud, dark Irish hero, descended from the Earls of Tyrone, who only wants to see Ireland free? And a high-spirited young Englishwoman, one of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, who rejects all her noble suitors for the love of such a man? The story is well written, wringing with emotion and angst, and steeped in the history of the times. This one will keep you turning pages, I promise.

Roberson has done much research for this story and understands the feelings of the Catholic Irish, persecuted and suppressed by a Protestant England. I applaud her for that. King James I is a character who would have Elizabeth for his mistress and we see the debauched lifestyle of his court as Elizabeth tries to preserve her virtue. Her dialog is often brilliant, her storytelling compelling. Her characters vividly portrayed.

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