Mark Boyle determined to return to a way of life before technology in his homeland of Ireland. Following the ways of his ancestors on the west coast, he built his home by hand, produces his own food, and carries water from the creek. This manifesto dispels any romantic notion of living off the land, appreciating the beauty of nature. It’s extremely hard work and Boyle is up to it, getting by with a little help from his friends, a network of neighbors. The memoir is compelling, intriguing, and radical in its scope, and Boyle remains matter of fact in his outlook as things go really wrong and as well as could be expected. I was fortunate to receive, ironically, a digital copy of this book from Oneworld Publications through NetGalley.
In 19th century Ireland, Mrs. Moloney interrogates her daughter’s fiance Micheal to determine his ability to properly support them, debating fate of divine purpose versus consequences of actions, secrets of God and those revealed to man. She then relays stories passed down to her by her parents of how the fates of certain families were sealed, admonishing Michael to decide whether it was providential destiny or mere consequences of their actions. It is her story—the incident that changed her life’s trajectory and estranged her from her parents—her refusal to be a product of her time. O’Callaghan blends Irish folklore and Christian mythology with fiction, about the origins of Christianity in Ireland, specifically the Ceile De, or Companions of God, and their Cailin an Tsagairt, or Priest Women, who were threatened by Roman Papacy and Norman invaders. Though the daughter’s inexplicable ignorance (contrasted by her fiance’s knowledge) and sudden symbolism at the end are confusing, this is a beautiful story rich with legends, family, and mercy. I was fortunate to receive this wonderful novel through a Goodreads giveaway.
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