A tale of hatreds and mercies, of balladry and the blues, of war and peace and the healing power of forgiveness, Redemption Falls is an epic novel and an unforgettable love story, from the author of international best-seller Star of the Sea ... Read more
Customer Reviews (10)
I can't quite believe all Jospeph O'Connor took on with this novel! It's scope is both huge (the nation during the Reconstruction, the West as it was being formed,) and personal (the lives of people living through those times, how they shaped and were shaped by them.) I feel O'connor wrote his heart out with this one, but if I was him, I'd surely feel it was worth it -- as a reader I certainly feel enlarged by the experience of this book.
This book is something like the HBO series "Deadwood" crossed with "Cold Mountain", and yet more, much more. For one thing, this is the first fictional account I have read of the experiences of the Irish Americans in the Civil War, and that part was just excellent too. O'Connor brings in the sense of a kind of fractured freedom that the American experience can be seen to be, an experience at once exhilarating and devasting, even excruciating.It was a very hard time to be alive;few got any breaks, and God help you if you were a woman -- a sentiment voiced early on by one of the characters, Elizabeth Longstreet. Given how dark this novel is in many ways, it is a testment to the sheer power of his writing that once begun, I was just absolutely taken up by it, felt I was practically living it. I absolutely adored the collage effect of the narritive(s) being overlaid with posters, songs, and poems of the times, which deepened the story immesurably to have the broader sense of the culture at large there in with thevoices of the characters. I have resolved to get the audio CD from my library system now, to hear this, as some of it is written as transcriptions of oral recordings anyway.
But I should say, if you are one who likes a linear story, beginning, middle, end, one narrator all the way through you may find yourself challenged by this. Personally I loved the insights the inner musings of the characters gave to my understanding of them and the story at large.
Loved Star of the Sea, but this..was a tough read!
I have to agree with other reviews..loved the idea,love historical fiction, and Iwas really excited to read a follow up to Star of The sea, but was disappointed. I found myself skimming not sentences, but paragraphs. I did want to find out about Eliza, she was quite the compelling character. I found the story did not flow very well, maybe too many points of view?
Hard read but worth the effort
I loved Joe O'Connor's Star of the Sea so much that I was really looking forward to part two of his American/Irish trilogy but was disappointed at the tenuous link between the two books.
Reading it was a hard slog and I wasn't too enamoured with his poetry, songs and posters scattered throughout the novel but it was insightful and I plowed on.
The style of this novel made it difficult to keep up with the story as there are so many characters and it was hard to see how they connected.It wasn't until the very end of the book that it came together for me and I was satisified that I had persevered but I know many who started the book and never finished it.
The plot is good and the idea for the novel is brilliant but for me it didn't match the brilliance of his former novel. However, it was worth the read and I am glad I finished it.
ExpectedA Little More
Had I not spent last week reading "Star of the Sea," this may have been a 3.5.I have tried to convince myself that I would have liked this better had I waited a few months between the two, but I don't think that would have been the case.
I can't argue that the writing is excellent.However, it just doesn't flow like "Star" did.Sometimes it is a bit too wordy and often the plot was hard to follow because of the jumping back and forth.It's funny to say that because "Star of the Sea" did the exact same thing, but it just didn't work for me this time.Instead of making me want to know what the answer to the mystery was, it made me want to say "Get on with it, would you?"
You might not want to read this paragraph if you do plan on reading this book.Although the ending eventually tied up the loose ends and fulfilled what the title alludes to I felt cheated because it ends with a twist that was eerily similar to "Star."This time it seemed a little too far fetched.Again, what worked for me in the earlier book definately did not work here - it seemed old and tired.
While I can say that this is a "good" read, had I read this book first I would not have read "Star."I hope the third book of the trilogy is better.
Redemption Falls, or Redemption Fails?
Told in the myriad voices of those who bore witness to the events described herein, "Redemption Falls" is at once both historical fiction profiling the Irish experience during and after the American Civil War, and a lugubrious chronicle of the human condition under duress. As a student of the American Civil War, the Emerald Isle's Joseph O' Connor employs the presumed idiom of the period; his characters come to life as they chronicle events. The illiterate and semi-literate seem woefully so.The educated speak to us in the wordy formality of the Victorian period.Visually, O'Connor bolsters his gritty tale by weaving in anachronistic poetry, army recruiting and `wanted' posters; effects that convene a finely tuned `1860s' cadence to Redemption Falls. The author's laborious description of a painting depicting a headdress'd American Indian gives the warrior life.Adroit at writing sentence fragments, O'Connor seamlessly shifts scenes, locations and voices--both fictional and real--from one time frame to another. O'Connor forces readers to savor every crafty word.
Mildly akin to Charles Frazier's melancholy "Cold Mountain," O'Connor's story unfolds in post-Civil War America. Former Irish rebel Cornelius O'Keeffe serves as titular governor of an unnamed western territory, although readers might assume the story is set in Montana. For O'Keeffe's character bears such striking resemblance to the first real-life governor of the Territory of Montana, Thomas Francis Meagher, that it's unlikely the similarity is coincidental. Following commutation of death sentences for perfidy against the noble Crown in Ireland, both Irishmen wind up as prisoners in Van Diemen's Land (Australia, Tasmania)--a life sentence they quickly escape via boat.Subsequent events find both our fictional protagonist and real-life Meagher in New York where they marry into society's crust. Both men serve with checkerboard distinction for the Federals during the Civil War.After the war and brief lecture careers, they head for the frontier to pursue roughshod careers that thrive there. Fueled by indomitable courage and the bottle, territorial governorships and decline await the once vainglorious O'Keeffe and Meagher.
Our fictional O'Keeffe and his fiery wife Lucia-Cruz reside in Redemption Falls where himself is routinely mocked and despised by its citizens, many of whom served in the Confederacy. Unkempt, sullen, often drunk, the governor plants one foot in the past where the ghosts of soldiers he sent to their deaths haunt him. In the present he's as unforgiving of himself as he is towards others. Con O'Keeffe boasts no friends save for a couple of abrasive deputies.
Following a tip, Con O'Keeffe happens on a grisly murder scene in the backcountry and discovers a filthy young Irish urchin lurking about.Defiant and mute, the pre-teen Jeremiah `Jeddo' Mooney faces O'Keeffe displaying a flash of the same pugnacious spirit that the governor himself boasts. Unable to find Jeddo's people, O'Keeffe hauls him off to live at his cabin at Redemption Falls.
Hewn from sawn timber, the unfinished cabin is not a happy place.The missus and her freed-slave cook, Elizabeth Longstreet, seem none to keen on housing a mute waif with behavior issues. Jeddo rapidly drives a nail into the marital coffin of a childless couple who, to remain so, sleep in separate bedrooms. (`Tis a Catholic thing.)
Which brings readers to Eliza Duane Mooney. Late of Louisiana and not-yet seventeen years old, she's walking fifteen hundred miles to the frontier in search of a brother she carries with her only as a worn daguerreotype. "Have you seen this boy?" she inquires. She hears rumor."You've seen him where?" Eyeing the sad parade of broken Confederate soldiers trudging shoe-less back to the South where homes and farms once stood, road agents take advantage of her as Eliza plods on.
Back at the O'Keeffe cabin the story takes a twist as we learn Lucia-Cruz keeps a Civil War skeleton in the closet. Meanwhile, Con O'Keeffe casts a blind-eye toward young Jeddo's disruptive shenanigans. Townspeople accuse Jeddo Mooney of skullduggery as the O'Keefe's marriage continues a downward slide.
Searching for a character readers can hang onto, we're reminded that after war's physical fighting ends the battle goes on interminably for the casualties of war--one message drawn from "Redemption Falls." O'Connor's hard-edged text further recalls that veterans and sympathizers of both the Federal and Confederate armies flocked to the frontier where blood flowed as the Civil War's spirit lived on for many.
Do any of O'Connor's characters find redemption? The book's title implies so. Yet those who read authors like Joseph O'Connor or Cormac McCarthy know that the hero doesn't emerge unscathed--or at all.Unearthing the answer in this case is worth the ride it takes to get there.
Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) says "Redemption Falls" took his breath away. What can one add to that?
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