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Irish Winter by John Simpson

Irish Winter (2008)

by John Simpson

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The book tells Ian and Devlin story from 1919 to 1924, the years during which Ireland fought for its independence from England. Ian is a apothecary apprentice of only 19 years old; he doesn't really care for war or kill, he wants to become an apothecary and make his own life in the world. Ian is a quite guy, probably even more quite since it's years that he realized that he prefers the company of men, but he has never acted upon his preferences. He tries to be as average as possible and to not be seen in the crowd. But when he witnesses to the assassination of a man and his old mother in the street to the hand of English soldier, he cannot hide no more. He offers his help to the IRA army and among the brotherhood he finds Devlin.

Devlin is only one years older than Ian, and they know each other enough to greet on street but not enough to be considered friend, they are on different level in life; Devlin's mother unofficially has a lot of 'boyfriend' who visits her at night, and on hers track, Devlin started to find some 'odd' work at night in the near cities, with married men in dark alley.

While Ian considers himself homosexual, Devlin at first approaches Ian more with a friends with benefits attitude: Devlin likes both women and men, and in this moment he likes Ian. But he knows that the lad, as he calls him, is way more inexperience than him, and even if they deepened their relationship to an intimate level, Devlin is reluctant to be fully involved, more for Ian's good than anything else. But more the years pass and the war worsen and more both men realize that they are now not only friends and fellow soldiers, but also lovers.

Despite passing through really nasty moments, Devlin and Ian are really young; they face the independence war with more heart than brain, they are not warriors, sometime I read them like children with adult dresses. Both of them follow something bigger than them, and they are really lucky to always come out alive; they are not hero characters, but more supporters.

The love story between them is nice, the more romantic minds should close the eyes in front of Devlin's side profession, something he is forced to bring on sometime more during his relationship with Ian, he really has no choice; but I think that it respects his character and the time, sincerely it's just enough of a pink glasses prospective for the two to be together, without being also too moralist. Maybe sometime I found the sex a bit too extreme (nothing fancy mind you): too much position other than the missionary and too much words in bed... I don't know, but sometime it felt forceful.

All in all a very nice and easy book to read, with enough historical details which prove that the author has more than a passing interest in the matter, and a medium long novel that allows plenty of time for the reader to enjoy the characters.

  elisa.rolle | Dec 17, 2008 |
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Dreamspinner Press

2 editions of this book were published by Dreamspinner Press.

Editions: 1935192361, 193519237X

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