Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 400 pgs.
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Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna is sweeping historical fiction in which Ireland strives for Home Rule and many Irish men are sent off to France during WWI, as the headstrong Gifford sisters are forced to deal with tragedy, fear, and the consequences of their independent natures. Grace, Muriel, and Nellie have lived privileged lives, but each has failed in one way or another to meet the rigid expectations of their Protestant and British loyalist mother, Isabella. Their father often cowers in his wife’s shadow, preferring to avoid conflict, unless he means to protect his own ability to attend the Roman Catholic church.
“It mystified her that, having given birth to twelve children, they could all be so different. When she had held each of her newborn children she had thought them so alike, cherubic mirror images of each other, but as the months and years followed, they changed, slipping away from her.” (pg. 28-9 ARC)
Through their efforts to carve out lives of their own, rather than get married and have families, each woman tries their hand at a profession. While Muriel realizes she does not have the constitution to become a nurse, she soon finds she thrives as a wife to Thomas MacDonagh, a playwright and teacher heavily involved in the Irish Volunteers and the campaign for a free Ireland, and as a mother to their children. Nellie’s brief moment with a man spurs her into action, helping those who need it most when the employers refuse to capitulate to the demands of their workers and the lockout leaves many families in Ireland near starving. And when the soldiers return from war, she helps them find jobs. Grace, however, knows that she wants to be an artist and pushes her mother and father to send her to art school where she excels. However, as a woman, she finds that while her work is accepted, she is rarely paid.
“MacDonagh teased her unmercifully when the newspaper reports mentioned ‘the Gifford sisters looking like a musical comedy in their pretty pale linen dresses as they attended the demonstration’.” (pg. 139 ARC)
These sisters become the backbone of the Nationalist movement, doing what they can to support their husbands, lovers, and friends, as the seek justice for their fellow Irish brethren — even calling for women’s suffrage. When it all comes to a head with the British on Easter in 1916, the Gifford sisters must rely on their inner strength to move forward. Conlon-McKenna makes these sisters come alive, and their struggles take an emotional toll on the reader. Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna is an emotional look at the families behind the rebellion and the tensions those families faced as some strove for Irish freedom and others remained loyal to Britain.
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About the Author:
Marita Conlon-McKenna is a hugely successful Irish children’s writer. Her first novel, UNDER THE HAWTHORN TREE, sold 250,000 copies in the Irish market alone. Her debut adult novel, THE MAGDALEN, was a number one bestseller in Ireland, followed by PROMISED LAND, MIRACLE WOMAN, THE STONE HOUSE and THE HAT SHOP ON THE CORNER. She lives in Dublin with her husband and four children.
Visit Marita at her website: MaritaConlonMcKenna.com.