My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Source: Personal copy
Genre: Historical fiction
Objectionable material: one use of the F-bomb; sexual innuendo
Read for Ladies of Literature book club
Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s, the story of The Yellow House centers around Eileen O'Neill as she grows up during a turbulent time in Ireland's history. Spanning 20 years, the story picks up during her childhood, as the family falls into poverty and tragedy sets the tone for Eileen's struggles. Working in a mill, in dangerous conditions, she saves her money and dreams of reuniting her family in the home of her childhood, hoping to bring back happier times.
Along the way, she finds herself torn between two men, and torn by her own will and the will of others. Her family history and the current political landscape shape Eileen's journey, and secrets and betrayals leave their mark.
I wanted to love this book: historical fiction, turn of the century Ireland, independent female protagonist – it had all the markings of a novel I would normally swoon over.
I did not.
The author did provide a rich and luscious narrative about turn of the century, politically unbalanced Ireland. If nothing else….I came away from this book with a much better understanding of the Anglo/Gaelic discord over the past 100 years and the Irish civil war.
However, the story was all rather predictable: struggling family trying to make ends meet; marital friction; Romeo/Juliet-type romantic tension between two characters; conflicted story lines that seamlessly worked themselves out to make a very happy ending. All too neat and tidy for such a turbulent time period.
This novel certainly aims to be an epic, Irish novel – but ultimately it was slow, plodding and quite often, repetitive.
My blogging friend Corinne loved this book – for a difference of opinion, please consider her lovely thoughts.