Sunday 27 December 2015

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's 1903. Nora Kelly, twenty-four, is talented, outspoken, progressive, and climbing the ladder of opportunity, until she falls for an attractive but dangerous man who sends her running back to the Old World her family had fled. Nora takes on Paris, mixing with couturiers, artists, and "les femmes Americaines" of the Left Bank such as Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Beach. But when she stumbles into the centuries-old Coll├Ęge des Irlandais, a good-looking scholar, an unconventional priest, and Ireland's revolutionary women challenge Nora to honor her Irish blood and join the struggle to free Ireland.

Author Mary Pat Kelly weaves historical characters such as Maud Gonne, William Butler Yeats, Countess Markievicz, Michael Collins, and Eamon de Valera, as well as Gabrielle Chanel, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Nora Barnicle, into Of Irish Blood, a vivid and compelling story inspired by the life of her great-aunt.


This book could have gotten a higher rating from me if it hadn't been for all the name droppings and for the fact that it felt like it took forever for me to finish the book. Now, this is a book that's over 500 pages long so it's no wonder it took some time for me to finish it. But, still it just felt like the story could have been cut down 100-200 pages or so. But then Nora Kelly would have missed all those wonderful moments of meeting every single famous person that were alive during the beginning of the 1900-century, whether it be a painter, freedom fighter, politician, actress, designer, etc.

Sorry, I will stop with my nagging now. The book was not all bad, I quite liked Nora Kelly and her family. And, it was interesting to read about her life in Paris and everything she experiences, her meeting with Peter, the man she would come to love, and everything she went through during WW1 and after. I especially liked her involvement with the moment to free Ireland and how she would, in the end, travel to Ireland and Galway where her grandmother was born. It felt like a closing of a circle since the first book Galway Bay (That I haven't read) is about Honora Keeley, Nora's grandmother that she is named after and who left Ireland together with her husband Michael and used to tell little Nora stories about Ireland.

So yes, I enjoyed the book, but alas I also felt that the story dragged now and then and that sometimes it was just too many famous people in the story that Nora just had to meet. Still, the book was well-written and well researched and I wouldn't mind reading Galway Bay.

I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

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