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The Yellow House Read-a-Long, Part 2

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 for part 2, which is pages 91-164.

Please be aware that the answers to these questions could contain spoilers.

Were you surprised by the turn the romantic storyline took?

No!  I knew the minute Eileen said that she was determined to hate him that they would end up in some capacity.  With a passionate, fiery woman like Eileen, it is inevitable that her passions would lead her to a rebellious man like James.  However, her path to Owen has not ended with her marriage to James, as I suspect the life of a rebel and champion of a united Ireland under Home Rule is likely to be killed or jailed.

What do you think of James? Is his treatment of his family – all in the name of the cause – justified?

James is a man set in his own ways and his own idea of how family is expected to act.  Eileen does not fit into that mold, and though I feel for her, she should have known what marriage to him would have been like given his relationship with his mother.  More than once his mother placed the needs of James above everyone else in the family — he was given a room in the house while Fergus was relegated to the shed and the other two siblings were forced to work in the mill to pay for James’ seminary education, which he clearly abandoned.  James has always been put first, and he acts accordingly.  He has no other expectations of his wife.  While he was drawn to Eileen’s passion for the cause, he also believes that his ideas and needs are superior to everyone else’s.   Is his treatment of his family justifiable in the name of the cause? To him, it is!  To the rest of us and Eileen, it is not.  Given Eileen’s background and her father’s devotion to the family in spite of his inability to farm, she expects more from her husband than his dedication to the cause — she expects him to provide for and protect them.  But she fails to see who James really is.

What do you think of Eileen’s reaction to James’ final betrayal – the emptying of her savings account?

I think the reaction is typical of her character, but I also would have expected more of her by this point.  In a way, her reaction is still that of a girl who does not know how to react to betrayal.  She needed to calmly accept the news and craft a better plan.  While I think she’s passionate and has a tendency to react as her mother does, which could lead to a similar fate, she is likely stronger than her mother if she draws on that O’Neill warrior inside.

How do you think the author is handling the intricacies of the political situation?

I really like how the reader learns about the political situation as Eileen learns of it and becomes more involved in the movement.  I like that she also provides the translation of terms like Sinn Fein, which I didn’t know about before.  I do like how there is not the one-sided against the British feeling to the story.  I think Falvey is doing well here.

Other thoughts:

I really enjoy Falvey’s writing style and the way that she weaves in the political and historical aspects, but keeps it grounded in Eileen’s personal story.  Yellow continues to play a significant role here in the story, and I’m still pondering what it means…though at this point I’m leaning toward the notion of “hope.”

For next week’s discussion we’ll be reading through page 238, which includes these sections: “Truce, 1920-1921? and “Passion, 1921.”

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  • I enjoyed reading your answers! I agree that in so many way, Eileen is still a girl -as evidenced by her fiery temper and inability to control her tongue. I also wonder how much James and Eileen’s passionate tryst after their first mission made her think she had to marry him – it was a very different time, then, and people didn’t jump in the sack with each other easily. Especially Irish Catholic girls!

    We’ll be sticking with our slower schedule – I decided I wanted to stick with what I had already laid out for everyone. I know that some of our readers won’t be able to wait – and it’s especially hard if you’re not a multiple-book reader like some of us are! Looking forward to next week’s discussion. 🙂

    • That’s true, Carrie. I’m sure the initial romp in the hay was something that signaled to her that they had to get married, but as no one saw them, I would expect her to have had a slightly more independent reaction maybe…she seems headstrong and willing to defy convention at other points in the story…so I wonder what made her think (beyond religion) why she had to marry James.

      I like the slower schedule myself because it gives me a break from the “pressure” (self-induced pressure) to read books and get them reviewed. I am such a multiple book reader. I can’t help it. I often feel lost if I don’t have several books going at one time.

  • James…I’d like to slap him, LOL. I think we really see Eileen’s initial reaction, as the section ends on the same day as the betrayal, so of course she’s going to be shocked and hurt and confused about what to do. I can’t wait to see how she pulls herself together and moves on because I’m quite confident that as a Warrior O’Neill, that’s what she’s going to do.

    • She better pull herself together or I will be even more disappointed than I was when her mother failed to pull it together for her two other children. James needs a good slap