Monday, May 14, 2012

Star of the Sea - a must-read novel

I have just finished reading this fascinating novel set in the mid nineteenth century.
    Joseph O'Connor has woven an excellently crafted work with ingredients of interesting period characters and storyline, suspense, even good crime fiction twists and it keeps the reader's attention all the way through.
Moreover, for me the positives above are really secondary value seductive hooks to allow a platform for portrayal to readers of the real heart and soul of this book - the almost unspeakable details and horrors of the darkest period in Irish history.

The great Irish famine of the 1840s was truly a form of Armageddon for Ireland. Starvation, diseases and deaths on an massive scale coupled with degrading evictions, disgusting workhouses, permanent family breakups by emigration and further deaths and appalling conditions on the emigrant "coffin ships" for those who could sell all they had to afford the passage to America. Over time the direct and indirect effects of this period in our history reduced the population of Ireland by many millions of people to about half of it's pre-famine levels.

There are few novels which cover this pivotal time so well with such a variety of the raw descriptions badly needed to be exposed. The author has researched his subject properly. It is no easy task to integrate not just minute historical details but also nineteenth century phraseology, customs and attitudes. Very commendable also is the accurate nautical and maritime information from the period coming from a man who admits to being a landlubber. I've been impressed by Joseph O'Connor's writing skills for some time. I think this work is his greatest achievement to date and will be respected forever as one of the great important classics of historical literature. As a novel and a story it is a truly captivating read and one's soul is also left indelibly imprinted with many of the savage details and implications of a very important part of Irish history.

A highly recommended read for everyone and especially Irish people and those in USA of Irish descent from 19th century emigration.

2 comments: said...

Im booking to the bookstore now to buy it.

refusetobeboxedin said...

I really enjoyed it - unusual style of writing too. Have you read the second one?

I don't know why I'm telling you this, but your blog is next to mine and you obviously like a good book too - I'm currently reading '11:22:63' by Stephen King. It's absolutely gripping. Give it a go if you fancy it.