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After the Lockout by Darran McCann
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After the Lockout (2012)

by Darran McCann

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This impressive debut novel is mostly set in an Irish village in November 1917. Victor Lennon left Madden and headed for Dublin to fight for the ideals he believes in - socialism and workers' rights alongside Irish independence.

The "lockout" mentioned in the title was a 5 month struggle between workers and employers over the right to join a trade union - a story I'm embarrassed, given my interest in Irish and labour movement history, to realise I know very little about.

Victor's father Pius has been drinking himself to death, his 15 children scattered around the world, and Victor's friend Charlie persuades him to come home to try and rescue his heartbroken father. Not everyone is glad to see the great socialist hero return though. Local church figures fear he will challenge their power and influence and stir up the parishioners. Indeed, all kinds of trouble are brewing.

I was intrigued by the setting and thought this was an excellent debut with very well drawn characters - from Victor himself, still angry, still keen to help ordinary people organise for something better, but already feeling some cynicism. I also liked the look at class politics in the Irish struggle at this time, and thought Victor with all his contradictions and confusions was a memorable protagonist. I did wonder at times if there was too much authorial hindsight - would people like Victor in 1917 foresee the betrayal of the nationalist cause so clearly?

Recommended. ( )
  elkiedee | Jul 13, 2012 |
"Being right is cold comfort when the whole world is wrong"

In November 1917, Victor Lennon receives the summons he’s been avoiding for ten years. While he’s been fighting for a communist republic in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, his father has been drinking the family wealth. The dogmatic local bishop Benedict sends for the young man, bringing hardened and cynical politics into a thus-far tranquil village and ends up with much more of a revolutionary than he can handle. Victor helps his father back onto his feet, fixes up the farm, and falls back in love with his childhood sweetheart. If only Ida Harte would step out of the story...

McCann renders 1917 country Ireland well, with simple supporting characters and an undeniably strong sense of community in the village folk of Madden. The key characters, Benedict and Victor, are forcefully and diametrically opposed in their opinions, but have critical flaws of character which render both quite unsympathetic.

The narrative drags at first; almost the first third of the book was devoted to exposition and character description before Victor returns to Madden. I understand the need to give Victor a certain history and show the reader just how committed he is to the revolution, but it became dull rather quickly.

I did not finish this book; the combination of a very slow start and unsympathetic characters – Victor seems to bring all his trouble upon himself, philandering and politicising – made it a dull read for me. Those with a stronger interest in the era or more patience with stubborn, opinionated, womanising protagonists would enjoy it more. ( )
1 vote readingwithtea | Jan 14, 2012 |
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...I inclined
To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
Till Homer's Ghost came whispering to my mind.
He said: I made the
Iliad from such
A local row. Gods make their own importance.

- Patrick Kavanagh, from ' Epic'
Dedication
For my parents, whose love, support and example made possible the writing of this book, and so much else.
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Two steps before me in the procession, the Countess swings her hips like she know I'm watching, her arse bobbing like a Halloween apple begging me to take a bite out of it.
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Book description
November 1917. With tensions in Ireland, war in Europe and revolution in Russia, Victor Lennon returns to his home village after a long exile. Radicalised by his experiences in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, Victor is a hero to many but a danger to some.

Those closest to Victor know his true nature: his father, Pius, now drinking himself to death; his oldest friend, Charlie, wounded in the trenches; and the love of his life, Maggie, who he left behind years before. But soon Victor and the fearsome parish priest, Stanislaus Benedict, are on a collision course, with the very souls of the people caught between religion and socialism.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0007429479, Paperback)

An ambitious and compelling first novel about a key moment in Irish history. November 1917. With tensions in Ireland, war in Europe and revolution in Russia, Victor Lennon returns to his home village after a long exile. Radicalised by his experiences in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, Victor is a hero to many but a danger to some. Those closest to Victor know his true nature: his father, Pius, now drinking himself to death; his oldest friend, Charlie, wounded in the trenches; and the love of his life, Maggie, who he left behind years before. But soon Victor and the fearsome parish priest, Stanislaus Benedict, are on a collision course, with the very souls of the people caught between religion and socialism. Told from the perspectives of these two equally strong-willed characters, After the Lockout is a first novel of tremendous ambition and achievement. At its heart is a conflict emblematic of a recurring faultline in Irish history, and of one more eternal and universal: between hope and experience; between ideals and human weakness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

November 1917. With tensions in Ireland, war in Europe and revolution in Russia, Victor Lennon returns to his home village after a long exile. Radicalised by his experiences in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, Victor is a hero to many but a danger to some. Those closest to Victor know his true nature: his father, Pius, now drinking himself to death; his oldest friend, Charlie, wounded in the trenches; and the love of his life, Maggie, who he left behind years before. But soon Victor and the fearsome parish priest, Stanislaus Benedict, are on a collision course, with the very souls of the people caught between religion and socialism.… (more)

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