THEY WERE DREAMERS by

THEY WERE DREAMERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Murphy, author of a particularly crude psycho-kill novel (Quonsett, 1978), is crude in a more benign, cornball fashion here--with an Irish family-saga (Ireland, Canada, Boston, 1832-1874) whose characters are as fiat and broad as canoe paddles. Big Brendan McMahon nips out of Ireland after accidentally doing in ""the Douglas,"" a vicious, King-appointed landlord. So the landlord's heir John Douglas, a villain of Halloween simplicity, lutes Brendan back to Ireland from Prince Edward Island--where Brendan is now husband to spunky Mary and father to wee Gabrielle--by kidnapping Brendan's sister Cathleen. And though Brendan snappily rescues Cathleen and dispatches Douglas (who's been celebrating a black mass, naturally), he hangs around Ireland to become a follower of golden-tongued Irish-rights agitator Daniel O'Connell. Meanwhile, back in P.E.I., Mary has problems with land rights, is routed from her home by a government agent, and does some heroic picketing and Assembly-crashing. . . just as Brendan, disappointed in O'Connell, sails home to enter politics: he confronts another landlord-villain, Jarrod Murdock; he leads a strike; Brendan's young son Daniel flummoxes Murdock by stealing his infamous ledger of debtors--a pre-Xerox disaster, after all, for an evil landlord/creditor. But both Murdock and Brendan (who'll also lead a rescue expedition to Quebec to save ill, starving Irishmen) are appalled when Brendan's Daniel falls in love with Murdock's beloved daughter Margaret. And the star-crossed lovers will die--one in icy waters, the other by fire--while Brendan's granddaughter Kate (Gabrielle's child) will have a happier fate: a teacher in 1873 Boston, she must decide (as her mother did long ago) between a Brahmin and a Honey Fitz-like son of the Auld Sod. Pure-hearted heroes, black-hearted bad guys, oversimplified history, and tired flourishes of Irish-American rhetoric: even for fans of the genre--a shrill, creaky period wallow.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum