The Irish History Novels of Thomas Flanagan
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Flanagan wrote only three novels: The Year of the French, covering the 1789 failed rebellion against the British, led chiefly by Wolf Tone. The Tenants of Time (the best of the lot) about the Parnell/boycott era of Irish politics and the quest for home rule. The End of the Hunt centers on Michael Collins, the Irish Free State and the civil war.
These three novels are the best in historical fiction because they are novels securely grounded in history. As literature they are outstanding. Fiction allows Flanagan to examine personal responsibility, regret, the passage of time, love, forgivness, idealism and the almost unthinking life choices someone makes in a moment. They are all great reads and a reader would be hard pressed to find thee volumes on Irish history that cover the subject so well with the narrative drive only fiction can have.
I've only read the first and that was many years ago--though I believe I have read it twice and it is excellent. I think with the other two I saw reviews here or there that weren't very flattering--maybe I should give the second a try?
I can't praise Flanagan's three historical novels enough. I've read each one twice. His collections of non-fiction writings, There You Are: Writings on Irish and American Literature and History is also outstanding.
Thanks, Smiley. Like lriley, I've only read The Year of the French. Something interrrupted my reading the first time through, but I picked it up again a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendations on the others; I will have to find them.
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