My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.
Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.
Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.
Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…
Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.
I read Beyond Derrynane, the first book in this series last year, and was thrilled to get the chance to reading the sequel and finding out more about Eileen O'Connell, what the next step in her life would be. You don't have to have read the first book to appreciate this book, but it's plus, although the events that happened in the first book and are mentioned in this book would be explained so you will not feel left out.
I found the first half of the book the best, to be honest. Eileen O'Connell is going back to Ireland, to visit her family for the very first time in years. It's a joyous reuniting for Eileen to once again be back home with her family. When she left Ireland was she a young widow and now she is an important person at the Habsburg court where she is in charge of the two young archduchesses. One of them being the future Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. What really appealed to me was the love story that took place back in Ireland when Eileen met the man she knew she would marry. However, not everything is that easy and she had to fight for the man she loved. There is a scene in the book where I sat with my heart in my throat as she literary had to flee together with the man she loved to freedom and a life with him. How that ended, well you have to read the book.
The second part of the book takes place back in Vienna and yes that part of the book was also good, but I did not experience the same feeling that the first half of the book gave me. The arrival of Hugh O'Connell, Eileen's little brother in Vienna and his friendship with archduchess Maria Antonia that started to blossom into warmer feelings was a storyline that just didn't truly engross me. However, the last part, in France, when Maria Antonia had been married off was both interesting and tragic.
Two Journeys Home is a book that feels really well-researched and I loved getting an insight into Habsburg court. I have read several books about the French court at the same time and getting a different view was great.
O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!
(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook
I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .
(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . . great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .
(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite
About the Author:
Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the 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. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.
An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.
A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.
The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.
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