BELLARY BAY by John Welcome


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A three-part mini-saga involving the Raymonds of Bellary Bay -- from the fading of the Edwardian age in rural Ireland to the air war in France, and then the Sinn Fein troubles after the war. While his impoverished father is reluctantly turning to neighboring landowner Massiter to save Bellary Court, young Stephen Raymond goes to school in North of England (they haven't the money for Eton), where he is singled out by young Calvinist sadist Conway for heavy caning. And when Stephen joins the Flying Corps, goes through training in England, is shipped to France, and scores 18 kills, his squadron gets a new commanding officer: Major Conway. Still the sadist, Conway works his squadron ragged over enemy territory on strafing missions -- shooting down helpless observer gas bags and parachutists. On a major mission Stephen's plane conks out, and he lands in enemy territory where he is hidden and nursed back to health by a French family. But Conway has put him down as a deserter, and Stephen must overcome a court martial before going home to run the family business (his father is dead). But Conway isn't finished with him yet! The villain now becomes an Auxiliary officer fighting the postwar Irish rebels -- Stephen is a nonviolent sympathizer. And Conway (egged on by a lie told by evil Massiter) sets fire to Bellary Court, shoots Stephen, and leaves his body to burn. . . Well-paced period melodrama, rich in authentic flavor -- but there's a didactic implausibility in the Stephen/Conway duel-to-the-death that many readers will find a bit too strident and contrived.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum