Publication Date: July 7, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction
Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.
When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.
Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.
Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.
In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.
Beyond Derrynane is the first novel of a very compelling new historical fiction series. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Mr. O’Connell took us to Ireland, France and Austria and each place seemed so very real and wonderful. The characters are alive and vibrant. Eileen is a strong woman who never forgets who she is and will never be taken for granted.
There are two very distinctive parts of this book. First, we see Eileen’s tumultuous marriage to John O’Connor. Their marriage began in violence and ended with a mutual fondness. Eileen’s strength gave her the courage to overcome incredible abuse and take control of her life. She refuses to be the damsel in distress. She will save herself. She is an amazing character who I would like to see more of. Next, we see her life in Vienna where she tries find a different path.
The Court of Maria Theresa was truly magnificent. I really appreciated that Mr. O’Connell did not dwell on the drama and negativity of a royal court. It was fresh and robust. Eileen’s relationship with the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. I’m really looking forward to see how Eileen’s relationship with her will continue once she goes to France.
Beyond Derrynane is a very good start to a very compelling series. I look forward to the next installments. I want to know how each character develops and discover where their journeys take them.
Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.
He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.
For more than four decades, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.
Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood.
The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 16
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, January 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Thursday, January 19
Review at Books, Dreams, Life
Friday, January 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads
Sunday, January 22
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, January 23
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Tuesday, January 24
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Monday, January 30
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Tuesday, January 31
Review at Book Nerd