Wednesday 25 January 2017

Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O' Connell Blog Tour

Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O'Connell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Beyond Derrynane by Kevin O' Connell

Publication Date: July 7, 2016
Gortcullinane Press
eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages
Series: The Derrynane Saga, Volume 1
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O’Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O’Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.

When O’Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfill her brother’s strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband’s son.

Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother’s wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O’Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court–making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Hapsburg Empire.

Beyond Derrynane – and the three books to follow in The Derrynane Saga – will present a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen “Gaelic Aristocracy” (of which the O’Connells were counted as being amongst its few basically still-intact families) at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.

In addition to Eileen’s, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O’Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.


I was instantly intrigued by this story when I read the book's blurb. As a fan of historical fiction and family sagas did The Derrynane Saga sound like a book for me. The book starts with Eileen O'Connell returning home after hardly been away a year married to a man that her brother decided she would marry. Here, she tells her story to her older sister Abigale. And, the beginning is, I think the strongest part of the book. I was instantly taken with Eileen, she is not a weak little flower being married off, instead is she a tough, pragmatic and resourceful girl. And, after a disastrous wedding night is she also a girl hellbent on revenge. But, here the book surprises me quite a lot and I found myself quite enjoying the change in the story, unfortunately, I also knew that this would not last.

The first book in The Derrynane Saga does feel like an introduction to the O'Connell family. It's an interesting period and I found the change from Ireland to the court of Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna interesting, but I also felt that the passing was a bit slow and to be honest I struggled with the book now and then. But, at the same time, I felt that this book is very well researched and put together. Although I was a bit torn about Eileen and Abigale time in Vienna. I wanted to enjoy it, but I felt that not much happened, not enough drama. Everything was cheerful and nice and it got a bit too much in the end. The book started off strong, but the last half lacked the intensity. At the same time, was I intrigued by the situation in Europe, and Empress Maria Theresa and her children and what the future will bring. For instance, at first, I didn't know who Archduchess Maria Antonia was, but a comment in the book made me check up Maria Theresa's children and that made me realize that Maria Antonia would one day be known as Marie Antoinette. She is the future queen of France and reading about her as a child was tinged with sadness, knowing her fate.

The Derrynane Saga did perhaps not spellbind me, but it's a well written and definitely well-researched book and perfect for history buffs. 

I want to thank Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the author for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

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About the Author

Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O’Connell’s own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

For more than four decades, O’Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.

Mr. O’Connell has been a serious student of selected (especially the Eighteenth Century) periods of the history of Ireland for virtually all of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O’Connell family at Derrynane, many even distant and long-ago members of which, especially the characters about whom he writes, he has “known” intimately since childhood.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, January 16
Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, January 17
Review at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, January 18

Review at Luxury Reading
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 19
Review at Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, January 20
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

Sunday, January 22
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, January 23
Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Tuesday, January 24
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, January 25
Review at A Bookaholic Swede
Excerpt at A Literary Vacation

Friday, January 27

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog

Monday, January 30
Review at Beth’s Book Nook Blog

Tuesday, January 31
Review at Book Nerd


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