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A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

“This is a female text, composed by folding someone else's clothes. My mind holds it close, and it grows, tender and slow, while my hands perform innumerable chores.

This book's exploration of a historical poem, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, (The Keen for Art O’Leary), sucked me in. The poem is about an Irish noblewoman who finds her husband murdered and composes a poem on the spot after drinking some of his blood. It's passed on from woman to woman for many years and eventually is written down. This book is also about the author, Dorieann Ni Ghriofa, and her lifelong obsession about with the author of the poem, and her life. This is part biography, part poetry, and part translation. It is truly a unique work, and difficult to describe.

The first part of the book focuses on the events in the life of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, up until her husband is murdered and she 'writes' her poem. The second portion of the book is more about Ghriofa's quest to learn more about Eibhlín, her life, and about her relations.

The first part of the book was amazing, but it sort of derailed a bit in the second portion for me. I don't regret reading this, it's such a lovely exploration of womanhood, and the connection between these two women who lived hundreds of years apart, but it was not exactly what I was expecting.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #93 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #DoireannNíGhríofa #Ireland #poetic #NonFiction #women #poetry #motherhood

Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory In Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

'All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.' – Viet Thanh Nguyen

I knew little about Ireland and Northern Ireland before reading this book. I only knew the term 'The Troubles' but had no idea what it really meant. This is an incredible book about The Troubles in Northern Ireland from the 60s-90s. It tells the stories of IRA and Provisional IRA members and what it was like to live through those times, and then the transition to 'peace'. It is about how to move on from a violent time like that, what should you remember? What should you forget? Was it all worth it?

Who should be held accountable for a shared history of violence? It was a question that was dogging Northern Ireland as a whole.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #83 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #Ireland #NorthernIreland #history #nonfiction #murder #IRA #Provos

The Good People by Hannah Kent

This is the sort of historical fiction that I enjoy. It's well researched enough that you are learning a lot about the time-period but the story is also compelling enough that you want to keep reading; you don't always get both of these in every historical fiction.

The setting is 1825, Ireland. The story is primarily about Nance Roche, who is a herb woman, and about Irish folk beliefs, more specifically, fairies. The way of life in Ireland at this time is well detailed and the details of 19th century village life really draw you into the story. Kent uses lots of Irish phrases which you can look up to learn more about them but I'm not sure I'll be able to ever pronounce them properly!

At the heart of the story, this is a story about superstitions but sometimes superstition is so rooted in everyday life, it is hard to see it as such. Superstition in this story gives a poor widow, Nora, hope that her child can be changed back to normal with the knowledge of The Good People (fairies) that Nance possesses.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #61 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #HistoricalFiction #HannahKent #Ireland #fairies #BookReview