THE SILENT PEOPLE by Walter Macken


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A warm and gentle story of Ireland portrays the hard years of the great potato blight and famine in the 1840's. Forced to flee for his life, Dualta Duane, the young nephew of a schoolteacher, travels south to take odd jobs and join an underground group attacking agents and landholders. Installed in a rich landlord's house as a spy, Dualta falls in love with the daughter Una; and in a reaction against the senseless violence, he foils an attempt to burn the house. Una, meanwhile, has left to teach poor children in a remote village. When Dualta meets her there accidentally, he joins her as a teacher and realizes his love for her in marriage. The only reward for their years of scrounging, meeting exorbitant rents, keeping silent, and working is the tragic blight that kills Ireland's only crop. While the starving straggle along the roadsides, eating grass and dying of hunger and typhus, Una survives the fever and bears a son. Dualta even considers an escape to America, but in the end decides to remain and wage his continual battle against hardship and defeat....A vivid picture of many striking personalities working in unison for a way of life under the most trying conditions. Poetic, but not sentimental--an engrossing and extremely well-written saga.

Publisher: Macmillan