I know I’ve said it before, but one of the best parts of working at a bookstore is being exposed to all kinds of new authors and new genres.
I snagged a copy of “Of Irish Blood” by Mary Pat Kelly. It follows Honora “Nora” Kelly’s life, beginning as a young 23-year-old Irish-American living in Chicago. Nora makes some less than stellar choices and gets caught up with a bad man. The only way out is to relocate, so Nora finds herself in Paris, wrapped up with Irish loyalists who dream of a free Ireland.
Nora’s story begins in 1903 and the book ends in 1923, so it covers a pretty large time span. I wasn’t necessarily expecting that, but having read it, I think the book wouldn’t have worked as well any other way.
The character voice in this story is very well defined. Written in first person, it’s really easy to get the feel of who Nora is. She’s very chatty, always with a story to tell or linking her family history with someone else’s (though, the way the other characters behave, we’re led to believe that is an Irish trait). She’s a true blue extrovert, that’s for sure. (Interestingly enough, Nora seems like the type of person that I wouldn’t be able to be around for more than a few hours at a time, but in a book, I guess I can handle it.)
But the style makes it a fast read–you read in the way you imagine Nora talking, fast paced, breezing right along. It took me a while to read it only because I had other things demanding more of my time. Otherwise, I know it would have been a few days to finish.
Nora’s story has a little bit of everything–romance, danger, adventure, intrigue. And it certainly makes you curious about Irish history (at least for me, so I guess I know what I’ll be adding to my list of subjects to read up on).
This book is a standalone, but it also is referred to as a sequel. This type of writing style I’ve always been impressed by–a continuing story, but one that makes perfect sense on its own, without constant references or explanations from the other book.
So whether you’re interested in history, Ireland, or just a good adventure saga, “Of Irish Blood” is worth a read.