A few liberties taken with the facts, but an excellent choice for readers interested in Anglo-Irish history.

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THE WINSHIP FAMILY

Set in the 19th century, this novel follows the lives of Protestant Anglo-Irish landowners William Winship and his adopted son, James, mixing fictional characters with historical figures.

Well-written with a mix of action, adventure, politics and historical detail, McCarthy’s novel throws readers right into the action, as young William faces a duel over his fiancee. His opponent, Lord Sudbury, will, along with his family, remain a persistent nemesis to the Winships. Most of the book, however, focuses on James as he grows from boy to man. He’s actually Seamus Tobin, the son of William’s gardener. After multiple tragedies, including the deaths of Seamus’ parents and of William’s wife and son, William adopts Seamus, Anglicizes his name and sets him on the path of a proper Protestant gentleman, including stops at Eton and Oxford. James, however, has a penchant for trouble. After being caught in a basement nightclub, he’s expelled from Oxford through the Sudburys’ machinations. James opts for a military career to redeem himself, becoming an officer of the 10th Kings Lancers in India. There, he again falls in with the wrong sort, amasses debt and is drummed out in disgrace. He finally reaches his stride in the Jenkins Horse, an unconventional regiment whose members wear native garb and take on many Indian customs. While reining in his own shortcomings, he demonstrates valor in combat. Along the way, McCarthy portrays some fascinating, well-drawn characters: Oliver Locke, an outrageous dandy styled after Oscar Wilde; Reg Archer, a dashing, womanizing officer; Rajah Ali, an Anglophile Indian prince who delights in philosophical discourse; and Paddy Tierney, an Irish sergeant who speaks endlessly of taking back Ireland through land ownership. Ali and Tierney, in particular, help shape James’ budding support for Irish home rule. When James returns to Ireland, he enters politics as a Tory, but the racism of his own party and his growing respect for Charles Stewart Parnell, founder of the Irish Parliamentary Party, help solidify his political stance. James switches parties and is eventually chosen by Parnell to be his successor. What’s most impressive is the way James’ views on Irish independence develop—slowly, logically and realistically, either through significant interactions with other characters or his own observations.

A few liberties taken with the facts, but an excellent choice for readers interested in Anglo-Irish history.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1475263022

Page Count: 452

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

SUMMER OF '69

Nantucket, not Woodstock, is the main attraction in Hilderbrand’s (Winter in Paradise, 2018, etc.) bittersweet nostalgia piece about the summer of 1969.

As is typical with Hilderbrand’s fiction, several members of a family have their says. Here, that family is the “stitched together” Foley-Levin clan, ruled over by the appropriately named matriarch, Exalta, aka Nonny, mother of Kate Levin. Exalta’s Nantucket house, All’s Fair, also appropriately named, is the main setting. Kate’s three older children, Blair, 24, Kirby, 20, and Tiger, 19, are products of her first marriage, to Wilder Foley, a war veteran, who shot himself. Second husband David Levin is the father of Jessie, who’s just turned 13. Tiger has been drafted and sends dispatches to Jessie from Vietnam. Kirby has been arrested twice while protesting the war in Boston. (Don’t tell Nonny!) Blair is married and pregnant; her MIT astrophysicist husband, Angus, is depressive, controlling, and deceitful—the unmelodramatic way Angus’ faults sneak up on both Blair and the reader is only one example of Hilderbrand’s firm grasp on real life. Many plot elements are specific to the year. Kirby is further rebelling by forgoing Nantucket for rival island Martha’s Vineyard—and a hotel job close to Chappaquiddick. Angus will be working at Mission Control for the Apollo 11 lunar landing. Kirby has difficult romantic encounters, first with her arresting officer, then with a black Harvard student whose mother has another reason, besides Kirby’s whiteness, to distrust her. Pick, grandson of Exalta’s caretaker, is planning to search for his hippie mother at Woodstock. Other complications seem very up-to-date: a country club tennis coach is a predator and pedophile. Anti-Semitism lurks beneath the club’s genteel veneer. Kate’s drinking has accelerated since Tiger’s deployment overseas. Exalta’s toughness is seemingly untempered by grandmotherly love. As always, Hilderbrand’s characters are utterly convincing and immediately draw us into their problems, from petty to grave. Sometimes, her densely packed tales seem to unravel toward the end. This is not one of those times.

To use the parlance of the period, a highly relevant retrospective.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-42001-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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