1972: A Novel of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution (Irish Century #4), by Morgan Llywelyn

Nine stars

Things are heating up in the fourth Irish independence novel by Morgan Llywelyn, pitting the British and Provisional IRA against one another over the six counties not ceded in 1921. Ursula Halloran has lived a decent life, trying to raise her son alone while filling him with true Irish values. Along the way, she has been able to offer up strong political views as well, though hoped that Barry would steer clear of the violence. Unable to help himself, Barry Halloran agrees to join and help the IRA in their attempts to force Northern Ireland to be turned over by the British Government. While discussions have not worked, it is time to let blood and gunfire fill the air, all for a united Ireland. While taking a trip to America, Barry learns a little more about the racial struggles there, drawing parallels between that and the Catholic situation in the North. While Barry is willing to make his mark on a small scale, the arrival of the 1960s spurns the whole world into a revolutionary sentiment, none more than in America. Watching the struggles between the races, Barry and those with strong independence views leave the IRA and form a provisional wing, all of whom will only be happy when Britain hands it over to the Irish Free State. When sentiments from 10 Downing and in Westminster are that they will only do so after the Protestant majority seek it, the Provisional IRA make their plans to resurrect a somewhat dormant revolutionary battlecry. With Barry in the middle of the action, there is little hope that he will remain unscathed. A brilliant build-up in the penultimate novel, as Llywelyn provides ample action to resolve in the final book. Perfect for series fans and those who love modern Irish history.

Morgan Llywelyn continues to show that there is no simple or straightforward answers with the Irish Question. In a strong, multi-generational series, Barry Halloran finally climbs into the spotlight, having been raised by a single mother. His passions surely develop under both the auspices of his mother’s varied sentiments about their homeland and how the world is drastically changing. Llywelyn addresses mass communication, as well as the sobering parallels that Barry has when he learns of race relations on a trip to America. When events and scenes from around the world are gathered on the television screen, Barry uses this and the ongoing push by the IRA to solve the six county dilemma to shape his political and societal views. Ready to take up the case—like his grandfather did in the early novels—Barry sees no answer without the thirty-two counties united once and for all. Many others grace the pages of this piece, historical figures and those created by Llywelyn, offering varied flavours to the complex narrative. The renewed push for an Irish revolution is not lost on the keen reader, though there is much going on around the world to help shape momentum in that direction. New ideas by the IRA may help lessen the violent impact, though there is little doubt that some prefer bloodshed over the gentleman’s handshake. The attentive reader will enjoy a mix of longer and quick chapters, offering much history and character development. I am eager to see how the series ends and what drama Llywelyn has in store for her readers.

Kudos, Madam Llywelyn, for keeping the various political and social adventures within the Irish Free State from losing their impact.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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