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Tipperary : a novel
Frank Delaney
Adult Fiction DELANEY

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Avatar for Ryner Ryner said:
Tipperary tells the life of Charles O’Brien, an Irishman, traveling healer, proponent of Irish independence and man of some passion. His story is told by the 21st-century narrator who finds some of Charles’ personal effects in an old trunk donated to a library and, curious, begins to research his life.

From with his childhood on an Irish farm and apprenticeship to a local herbalist, we follow Charles to France where he attends Oscar Wilde at his sickbed and also falls in love, and back to Ireland where his life’s crowning achievement is overseeing the restoration of an ancient Irish castle fallen into disrepair and ruin. Meanwhile, the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War are transpiring in the background and, on occasion, in the foreground as well.

I found this an enjoyable read, with just a one small quibble. Having the narrator, who punctuates episodes from Charles’ life with additional historical information of interest to the reader as well as an account of how his research is progressing, is a bit confusing and somewhat jarring initially. Just as the reader is becoming engaged with one storyline, the perspective changes and one must guess who’s speaking. Otherwise, this period in the history of Ireland is fascinating and was almost entirely new to me, having very little idea of Irish history prior to independence. The parallels to slavery in America – Irish Catholics were forbidden to write and could be deported for owning books – were a complete surprise. I would definitely read more of Delaney’s works.
posted Jul 7, 2008 at 8:46PM
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main characters Charles O'Brien
Claimed to have treated Oscar Wilde on his deathbed; gave James Joyce advice; met the founders and leaders of the IRA; met April, the love of his life, at 40; was hopelessly in love with April; tried to restore a magnificent estate in the hopes of winning April's love; dealt with vicious guerilla warfare that erupted all over the country; struggled with the fight for Irish independence.

April Burke
Age: 18
Spurned and exploited Charles.

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