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The Tenants of Time

by Thomas Flanagan

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293469,993 (3.91)25
"A William Abrahams book." Follows the lives of three men, from 1867 to 1891, who are among the sixty to take part in the ill-fated Fenian Rising that was intended to bring about an Irish Republic.

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This is one of those rare books where I feel I let it down rather than it let me down. A recounting of the events surrounding the Fenian rising of 1867, focusing on the small village of Kilpedar which achieved a certain amount of notoriety when a police barracks was burned down and a minor skirmish in snowy woods were later transformed into an heroic battle, the book sets out to slowly introduce the characters, the place, the time, the context, the history, the landscape, the society, the organisations, the landscape, the peoples, more landscape, humanising and demythologising with a lovely, slow ponderous grace, describing and redescribing and contextualising and recontextualising and presenting different points of view and oh my God two hundred pages in and it feels like it still hasn't properly started, hopping backwards and forwards and sideways in time like a scholarly and obsessive Doctor Who. Never a sentence but a thing of beauty, never a character but complex and living, never a bit o' landscape but evoking memories and thoughts and ponderings.

Where Year Of The French shook with barely repressed rage, and the top-to-bottom portrait of a dysfunctional, unjust, self-cannibalising world that spared no-one seared the reader and welded the book to your hands, Tenants Of Time meanders sadly in a fit of melancholy, an elegaic and almost wistful meditation on futility of actions and of history and the transformations wrought by time. The rising merely sets the stage, you see, for two hundred flippin' pages, before the rise of Parnell and the Land League and the passing of the Great Houses and the decline of the Anglo Irish aristocracy in flAmes and bitterness and the odd murder here and there.

But what a slow, weary read it is, without an ounce of the urgency and energy of YOTF. Brilliantly written, no question, but I think the pace and the size clashed with my mood and it became a slog, which seems a pity. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
3586. The Tenants of Time, by Thomas Flanagan (read June 9, 2002) I read the author's The Year of the French in June 1979 but never noted the succeeding novels until now. This one is the novel, published in 1988, covering the period from the Fenian uprising of 1867 till the fall of Parnell in 1891. Though there is not a drop of Irish blood in my background, Irish history has always fascinated, especially the 19th century, and I found this fictional treatment extremely well-done. I became convinced the author portrays the time and locale well, and the intricate plot poignantly satisfies. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 18, 2007 |
Continuing the great span of Irish history. Classic and beautiful. ( )
  Doondeck | Mar 9, 2007 |
The Parnell era of Irish history and Parnell's own downfall, are mirrored in the relationship of two of a half dozen main characters in this fine page turner. It also explores "what is history?" and how a single event can not only shape lives but link them. ( )
  Smiley | Mar 6, 2006 |
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"A William Abrahams book." Follows the lives of three men, from 1867 to 1891, who are among the sixty to take part in the ill-fated Fenian Rising that was intended to bring about an Irish Republic.

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