THE INTERLOPER by Eilis Dillon


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A pale story of lopsided love, set against the shifting allegiances and fierce brutality of the Irish Civil War. Michael D'Arcy is the young and weak-willed narrator, born into privilege in Connaught and caught up, in October 1920, in the fight to throw off the oppressive British troops, the Black and Tans. He becomes an aide to Commandant Dunne, the closemouthed son of a Dublin tailor. While D'Arcy becomes squeamish early--even his allies seem a bit too gleefully murderous--he sticks with Dunne, whom he can't stand. And he meets red-haired Pamela, a camp hanger-on who's taken a deep shine to his boss. When truce is declared, D'Arcy is tempted by the prospect of peace, but obediently follows Dunne to organize IRA troops to fight partition. Battles with the Free Staters turn ugly, Dunne is captured in Dublin, and D'Arcy and Pamela hole up in a country shack. By playing on Pamela's sympathy, D'Arcy gets her into bed. Fine and and good until Dunne escapes from prison and--suspecting nothing--sets up headquarters in the former love-nest. Pamela, still mad for Dunne, is pregnant with D'Arcy's child. In weird desperation, the two concoct a plan to get Dunne arrested; he'll be safest in prison, rationalizes D'Arcy. With Dunne out of action, D'Arcy is left to play an increasingly important role in an army that's beginning to distrust him, and to contend with the fact that he still doesn't have Pamela. While Dillon, author of several historical sagas, works the plot neatly into the wild tangle of real-life events, the D'Arcy-Pamela relationship is thin and flavorless. In all: an only moderately engaging snapshot of the uncertainties of civil war.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1988
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton--dist. by David & Charles