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The Yellow House Read-a-Long, Part 1

As part of the 2012 Ireland Reading Challenge, we’re reading The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey.  For the first week, we read pages 1-90.  I’m going to answer the read-a-long questions here.  Please be aware that the answers could have spoilers in them.

1.  What do you think of the writing?

Falvey’s writing is very in step with other Irish writers I’ve read in the past where the diction and the style resembles the time period and the very mythical Irish culture.  I’m enjoying the detail and the description a great deal; it gives me a sense that I am there in the valley below Slieve Mullion, the mountain looking down on the O’Neill house.

I had a hard time stopping after the second section in the book when I hit page 90.

2.  What do you think of Eileen’s parents?

Eileen’s parents have secrets, and these secrets are well hidden from the children, as to be expected during that time.  Parents did not openly talk about their courtships or previous relationships with their lovers and/or parents to their children.  I’m surprised at how lively Eileen’s mother talked of the past once it was revealed where their grandfather lived.  It seemed a bit incongruous to me that she would suddenly want to reminisce with her kids about a past she had kept so hidden and one that was fraught with despair and heartache.  I really was disappointed that such a strong woman was unable to bounce back after tragedy to help her other children!  It saddened me to think that she would withdraw so much, and after the death of the father, she became an unrecognizable woman…that seemed a bit extreme to me.

Eileen’s father is a typical dreamer, which has been seen in other Irish novels, but what’s intriguing here is that he is not a drunkard and does not make foolish monetary decisions that leave his family out in the cold for the most part.  He does make a go of farming, though eh fails miserably at it, but rather than gamble away the future, he takes the reasonable road and sells a portion of the land…at least until he takes out a mortgage on the house.

3.  It seems that the book is heading in a romantic direction when it comes to Eileen and Owen Sheridan. What do you think of this potential romance?

Eileen and Owen have a sort of forbidden love, which can be tempting, but for now it seems that Eileen is being level-headed…however, there also is the wild card of James, whom she is determined to hate.  But will she really, and will he really become a priest?  That remains to be seen.  It also seems to be a similar set up going on here that may mirror her mother’s past when she became pregnant with Frank and instead of marrying his father, she marries Eileen’s dad.

4.  As we closed the second section, the world is on the brink of the First World War, and Ireland is being torn apart by the fight for Home Rule. Have you learned anything about Ireland or the world at this time period that was new to you?

I finally understand the difference between the Unionists and the Nationalists!  These were mentioned in A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry (my review), but it was so confusing given the main character, Willie had little knowledge of politics related to WWI or the Irish struggle for Home Rule.  I hope there is more of the politics behind the wars in this one.  It’s fascinating to me, though I don’t want the book to lose its pace or its dynamism.

***Some Other Observations***

I really love how Falvey has used nature here to demonstrate the struggles of the Irish, and her descriptions of the Music Men are fantastic at demonstrating the power of music and how it became a safe heaven for many Irish.  I’m also getting curious about the significance of yellow here; it seems to be recurring in the house paint, Eileen’s dress, and other events.  I cannot wait to see how that ties into the overall novel.

For next week, we’ll be reading pages 91-164 or sections “War, 1914-1918″ and “Insurrection, 1919-1920.”

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  • Thank goodness she gives more information about Home Rule than Sebastian Barry did; that was my biggest problem with his book. I’m loving this book so far, and you’re right that Falvey’s writing is reminiscent of other Irish storytellers, like Frank Delaney.

    • I really like this book, and I cannot wait to read Linen Queen now. I’m glad that there is more information about Irish politics here. I think it’s like Delaney, but not as much given his tangents in the series with Venetia Kelly

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  • I haven’t read one of these for awhile. I bet I’d enjoy this one. Anxious to hear more about the novel.

  • I never thought of the yellow being significant. Bravo for you. How observant. I’m just thinking about PJ, why is he so “involved” and why was he the first one to be called all the time. Hmmm.

  • I skimmed your answers because I’m thinking of reading this one in the future!

    • I hope you read it soon.

  • Very good point to bring up – what does that yellow signify? That’s been kind of spinning in my head. There has to be something there!!!

    • I can’t wait to find out what is up with that Yellow!

  • I really enjoyed reading your answers – thanks so much for responding! And if you want to learn more about this era of Irish history, I can’t recommend Tipperary by Frank Delaney highly enough – it was excellent.

    • That’s on my to-read list this year, and I hope to get to it soon.