Tipperary

Tipperary

by Frank Delaney

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Overview

“My wooing began in passion, was defined by violence and circumscribed by land; all these elements molded my soul.” So writes Charles O’Brien, the unforgettable hero of bestselling author Frank Delaney’s extraordinary novel—a sweeping epic of obsession, profound devotion, and compelling history involving a turbulent era that would shape modern Ireland. 

Born into a respected Irish-Anglo family in 1860, Charles loves his native land and its long-suffering but irrepressible people. As a healer, he travels the countryside dispensing traditional cures while soaking up stories and legends of bygone times–and witnessing the painful, often violent birth of land-reform measures destined to lead to Irish independence.

At the age of forty, summoned to Paris to treat his dying countryman–the infamous Oscar Wilde–Charles experiences the fateful moment of his life. In a chance encounter with a beautiful and determined young Englishwoman, eighteen-year-old April Burke, he is instantly and passionately smitten–but callously rejected. Vowing to improve himself, Charles returns to Ireland, where he undertakes the preservation of the great and abandoned estate of Tipperary, in whose shadow he has lived his whole life–and which, he discovers, may belong to April and her father.

As Charles pursues his obsession, he writes the “History” of his own life and country. While doing so, he meets the great figures of the day, including Charles Parnell, William Butler Yeats, and George Bernard Shaw. And he also falls victim to less well-known characters–who prove far more dangerous. Tipperary also features a second “historian:” a present-day commentator, a retired and obscure history teacher who suddenly discovers that he has much at stake in the telling of Charles’s story.

In this gloriously absorbing and utterly satisfying novel, a man’ s passion for the woman he loves is twinned with his country’s emergence as a nation. With storytelling as sweeping and dramatic as the land itself, myth, fact, and fiction are all woven together with the power of the great nineteenth-century novelists. Tipperary once again proves Frank Delaney’s unrivaled mastery at bringing Irish history to life.

Praise for Tipperary

“The narrative moves swiftly and surely. . . . A sort of Irish Gone With the Wind, marked by sly humor, historical awareness and plenty of staying power.”Kirkus Reviews

“Another meticulously researched journey…Delaney’s careful scholarship and compelling storytelling bring it uniquely alive. Highly recommended.”Library Journal (starred)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812975949
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/03/2008
Series: A Novel of Ireland Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 243,195
Product dimensions: 8.18(w) x 5.46(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Frank Delaney is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Ireland, as well as The Last Storyteller, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, Tipperary, Shannon, and Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea. A former judge for the Man Booker Prize, Delaney enjoyed a prominent career in BBC broadcasting before becoming a full-time writer. Delaney died in 2017.

Hometown:

New York, New York, and Kent, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

October 24, 1941

Date of Death:

February 21, 2017

Place of Birth:

Tipperary, Republic of Ireland

Place of Death:

Danbury, Connecticut

Education:

Thomastown National School 1947-54; The Abbey School, Tipperary, 1954-60; Rosse College, Dublin, 1960

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Be careful about me. Be careful about my country and my people and how we tell our history. We Irish prefer embroideries to plain cloth. If we are challenged about this tendency, we will deny it and say grimly: “We have much to remember.”

“But,” you may argue, “isn’t memory at least unreliable? And often a downright liar?”

Maybe. To us Irish, though, memory is a canvas—stretched, primed, and ready for painting on. We love the “story” part of the word “history,” and we love it trimmed out with color and drama, ribbons and bows. Listen to our tunes, observe a Celtic scroll: we always decorate our essence. This is not a matter of behavior; it is our national character.

As a consequence of this ornamenting, we are accused of revising the past. People say that we reinvent the truth, especially when it comes to the history of our famous oppression by England, the victimhood that has become our great good fortune.

And do we? Do we embellish that seven hundred years since the Norman barons sailed to our southeast shores? Do we magnify those men in silver armor, though they stood only five feet six inches tall? Do we make epic those little local wars, often fought across rivers no more than some few feet wide? Do we render monumental the tiny revolutions fought on cabbage patches by no more than dozens of men with pitchforks and slings?

Perhaps we do. And why should we not? After all, what is history but one man’s cloak cut from the beautiful cloth of Time?

Customarily, history is written by the victors; in Ireland the vanquished wrote it too and wrote it more powerfully. That is why I say, “Be careful about my country and how we tell our history.” And in this account of my life as I have so far lived it, you will also have to make up your own mind about whether I too indulge in such invention, in particular about myself.

All who write history have reasons for doing so, and there is nothing so dangerous as a history written for a reason of the heart. The deeper the reason, the more unreliable the history; that is why I say, “Be careful about me.”



Those paragraphs, written in a looping brown script, sat undisturbed for seventy-five years in a large wooden chest. They lay beneath a pile of clothing: a lady’s green gown; a heavier and more ornate green brocade coat, with cream silk finishings; some brown leather gauntlets; a small velvet sack containing tresses of brown hair; and a pair of lady’s buttoned boots.

The longtime owner of this trunk, an uncaring man with a runny nose, knew nothing about it or where it came from. It had been sitting for some years in a corner of the shed attached to his hardware premises and, ungifted by curiosity, he had never opened it. To this day he can’t recall anything other than that he “bought it from a pair of tinkers,” whose tribe had been buying and selling antique furniture and junk all over Ireland in the early 1990s. The travelers, when traced and asked, said that they “couldn’t remember it,” that they often bought and sold a vanload of “stuff” (or, as they pronounce it, “shtuff”) in that town.

Now the chest rests in an attic of a county library in the south of Ireland. The man who donated it bought it from the hardware shop; he recognized it from a description he had been given by a family friend who had often talked about it and who had searched for it.

As a piece of furniture or an antique, it has little interest. Made of oak, with sharp, squared corners, it has a simple brass lock and two ordinary, serviceable handles; and when the lid is raised, the timbers still yield a faint, musty smell, that familiar incense of the past—probably from the fabric of the clothing. However, the antique objects, together with the written contents, assembled with other papers and letters, will soon form an exhibit in the museum section of the library.

It is expected to arouse strong interest—on account of the main document and the story it tells. In a great personal drama, the two principal characters played out their lives against a backdrop of Ireland’s most crucial historical period.

The narrator with the sloping handwriting was a man named Charles O’Brien, part wanderer, part journalist, many parts lover. After he wrote those opening “Be careful” sentences, he loaded his document so copiously with details of his world that it has been entirely possible to trace him and his story, and the lives of those he knew or encountered, and the forces and mysteries that became part of his life.

His document, apart from the slightly crumpled top and bottom pages, has remained in excellent condition. Although time and the weight of the clothing in the oak chest compressed the pages, Mr. O’Brien had been careful (and wealthy enough) to use high-quality writing paper, and he wrote with expensive ink, which did not fade; when even the innermost pages were gingerly pulled apart, they lost none of their legibility.

The handwriting helps—his big-handed script had no affectations; every word he wrote is rewardingly legible. As is his style, and in this, Mr. O’Brien was also a man of his time. Other than a breaking down of sentence length and an occasional formality, few major permanent changes have occurred in English writing fashions since the middle of the nineteenth century. The writers of the period, such as Robert Louis Stevenson (who lived from 1850 to 1894), could have been writing today, so fresh seems their general idiom.

Directly after his opening apologia, Mr. O’Brien tells the first of his many tales, a vivid account of an incident from his childhood.



I commence writing this volume (whose genesis and purpose I will presently explain) with a memory that haunts me, and that blazes with the fire at the core of Ireland’s history during my early lifetime— the struggle over land.

This report may seem to come from the storehouse of distant recollection, but it has the higher value of immediacy because, at my father’s request, I began writing it directly we reached home on the day in question. Save for adjusting boyish errors and excesses, and maturing the style into adult expression, I have not tampered with the account since I wrote it, in June 1869.

I had just reached my ninth birthday. My father and I had been visiting Mr. and Mrs. Treece, near neighbors and well-known to my parents. They owned a good-sized farm, which had been given to the Treece family for helping Oliver Cromwell on his fiery rampage through Ireland in the 1650’s.

Mrs. Treece seemed to like me. I remember her as lovely, and I know from my parents’ comments that she was considered a great beauty— tall, full-figured, and with a slight snort when she laughed. (My father often made her laugh; my father was a benign and humorous man.) Mr. Treece frightened me; I never found his jokes amusing, and he had that disconcerting trait of making an outrageous assertion without regard to its truth.

“All men who are fair-haired as boys tend to go mad in later life,” he said to me that day. I may have doubted him—but I wished for many days thereafter that I had my brother Euclid’s coal-black, rod- straight hair, instead of my own Viking curls.

As we departed their doorstep, Mr. Treece suddenly said to my father, “Bernard, I think I’ll ride alongside of you—I have a bit of business happening out the road and I might need you to witness it.”

We waited in his cobblestoned yard while he saddled up a great mare, close to eighteen hands high. Down the avenue, out through the gates, he rode along beside us, chatting down to my father; Barney, lunging between the shafts of our yellow pony-trap, wanted to race Mr. Treece’s horse.

The dampness of the morning had now cleared, with the clouds in those formations that I find unique to Tipperary—big white fleeces drifting across a powdery blue sky. A mile or so along the road to Cashel, Mr. Treece said, “We’re down here” and spurred his horse. My father hesitated as though he might not follow; he actually halted the pony. Then he changed his mind and we swung into a lane behind Mr. Treece and his horse’s rump.

Around a bend, under some trees, the lane ended and we rode on to a wide place of open grass bordered by the woods. My father said, “Oh damn-and-blast” and pulled up Barney so hard that I was pitched forward on the leather seats; and my father, still talking to himself, said, “Huh. I was afraid this was what the bugger meant.”

Straight ahead, a knot of people milled around a long, low house with a thatched roof and whitewashed walls, the kind of dwelling very common in our countryside. Two or three apple trees stood near a small wall that confined a little garden in front of the red door. Outside the house, men in uniform, some on foot and some on horseback, swirled in a commotion. My father breathed, “They’ve brought in the soldiers. Boys-oh-dear!”

Other men, big-boned laborers, backed up two huge, head-plunging horses with flowing manes until their large, high-sided farm cart met the low garden wall. The men began to unload the cart. First came some heavy wooden poles, which others began to set up in a great, high tripod; next, they hauled from the cart a rattling, clinking length of heavy chain, which they attached to the tripod’s neck. Finally, three of the men jumped on the cart and began to push and haul. In a moment or two, a huge wooden beam slid from the cart onto the little wall. It then eased down into the garden, where a workman leaned against it, to keep it in balance against the wall.

At that, a woman of about my mother’s age in a drab frock burst from the doorway, screaming. At full speed she attacked the workman near the beam with her fists. She hauled him, she kicked him, she pulled his hair—and she wrestled him to the ground beside the big wooden column. Other men grabbed the huge beam and prevented it from falling over. Two boys, one about sixteen and one close in age to myself, now ran out and joined in to help the woman, whom I presumed to be their mother.

Mr. Treece rode forward. My father muttered to himself, “Oh, typical, typical. The whip’ll be next, I suppose.” And, indeed, Mr. Treece had been carrying a long whip in his hand as he rode along beside us. (I remember that I thought: Why does he need it? My father never carries as much as a riding-crop—he does it all, he says, with his knees, “as a horseman should.”)

The boys retreated a pace or two, and the policemen in their dark tunics and the soldiers in their red tried to haul the woman off the man whom she was beating. When Mr. Treece shouted, they stood back to make room for him. Mr. Treece rode in and, leaning across the little wall, began to lash the woman and the two boys with his whip. He cut the woman about the face and head, he lashed the boys’ faces and their bare legs and their heads. When his whiplash left a stripe-mark on the wooden beam, even the uniformed men recoiled.

“And you want me to witness this, George Treece?” said my father to himself. “And you want me to witness this?”

Now Mr. Treece rode his horse into the pretty little cottage garden, and when he reached the kicking, screaming woman, he not only rained blows on her, he tried to pick his horse’s legs across the man and ride the hooves upon the woman.

She screeched, and he lashed her again with the whip many times. When she tried to grab the lash, she missed and fell; then she scrambled to her feet and ran into the house, her two boys after her. Mr. Treece called “Get up” to the man on the ground and pulled his horse back. The man arose and seemed rueful but none too injured; he stepped out of the garden and over to where the two big drays swished their tails.

By this time I had been transfixed and could not tear my eyes away— from a scene the likes of which I had never imagined, much less encountered. My father laid his hand on my head and said, “Home?” I did not look at him and he said, in a change-of-mind tone, “No. Maybe you’re the one who should be the witness,” and we stayed; indeed, he even edged a little closer and swung the pony-trap around for a better view.

Now I saw another player in the drama, a man of about my father’s age or older. He stood some twenty yards back from the proceedings, leaning against a tree, seemingly detained there by one of the policemen. When I had a better view, I saw that this man used a wooden crutch; sometime, somewhere, he had lost a leg. He was shaking his head, as if unable to come to grips with Life at that moment.

As I watched him, he began to shout, and the policeman tried to quiet him. Mr. Treece turned around on his horse, saw the man, spurred the animal over to him, and fetched the shouter a lash down across the head and face with the whip, and then another lash. The man would have reached to grab the whip but his uniformed custodian prevented him, and in any case Mr. Treece, generally excited and red-faced, rode back to the front of the house.

“Set it up,” he shouted at the knot of men. “What’s keeping you back? Set it up!”

The men bustled to assemble the apparatus. They hung the chain down between the poles of the tripod where it ended in a hook. Next, they manhandled the great column along the ground to a point where they could hook the chain into a ring on the wooden beam. When they had made the connection and reeled in some lengths of chain, the post swung clear of the ground like a long rectangular pendulum. They dragged and shoved until the tripod stood right against the wall of the house, near one of the small windows.

Sweating with exertion, the working gang hauled the swinging wooden beam—which seemed at least three feet thick—back from the tripod. For a moment they held it there, out at an angle. Then Mr. Treece shouted, “Let her go,” and they released the ram. It swung forward and battered into the window of the house and the wall beside.

My father muttered, “Oh, great Lord!”

Glass crashed and tinkled; the outside of the building fell apart in a blurt of whitewash and brown mortar; I was surprised and alarmed at how much of the house burst under that one swinging stroke. As the men steadied the ram, something flew from the doorway and they reeled back, yelling. Mr. Treece’s horse bucked as if stung.

Mr. Treece shouted. “The bitch! What is that?”

A policeman shouted, “Boiling porridge, sir”—someone in the house had hurled the contents of an oatmeal pot through the doorway.

“Draw your guns,” shouted Mr. Treece, and with only a short hesitation, all the military and all the police drew their guns with a rattle and held them ready, aimed at the cottage door. A silence fell. Portions of the wall continued to crumble. I looked at the man beneath the tree; he had begun to weep. His tears and his gasping, dismayed face seemed very different from the sadness of my father when my grandmother had died, or when he watched Mother sing his “beautiful Bellini.”

“Angle her and go again,” Mr. Treece shouted. Beneath a hedge of pointed guns the men rearranged the tripod’s angle to edge it farther along the wall. Once more they held back the thick battering ram and released it. This time, its impact went straight through the wall. The hole gaped so wide that we could see the woman inside the house, her face lined with blood from the whip’s lashes, which she tried to wipe away with a sleeve.

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Tipperary 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out slow and mellow then gained interest in Irish history and ended VERY interesting and exciting - difficult to put down last third part of novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frank Delaney consistently tells great stories, and this book is no exception. The book has two narrators, whose text is interwoven throughout the book. One narrator is a historian who has located the manuscript of the (now-deceased) second narrator. It tells the story of Ireland leading up to and during the fight for independence, but not as a history. Instead those events are the context for the bigger story, a story about the restoration of a grand estate and a long unrequited love affair. Very hard to put down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frank Delaney is talented enough to equal the skills of Edward Rutherfurd in writing historical fiction! I loved his first novel, Ireland, and enjoyed Tipperary just as much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A moving story which will stay with me for a long time.
LK_Hunsaker More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of Delaney's Ireland, I had to keep going and read Tipperary. I love historical fiction that goes well beyond general facts of a time and place and gives me better insight and further knowledge. Tipperary does just that. It's an amazing story of a man and his homeland, the struggles of his nation as well of his personal life, that highlights historical people and events and pushes underneath to shed light on Ireland's underbelly. I also enjoyed the unique style of the novel, the shifting narrators, the letters that read as though they could be actual letters from the time. There were times the pacing dragged and times I didn't enjoy the main character a great deal because of his choices, but he was real and he told the story in a way a different character would be unable. I'd like to be able to give this 4 1/2 stars because 4 isn't quite high enough, and yet it doesn't quite compare with Ireland. I will be reading more of Delaney's fiction in the very near future.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I am stunned, enthralled, and shocked in a beautiful way.
mrstreme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I waited with near-breathless anticipation for LibraryThing to choose me as an early reviewer for Random House books. I selected only one book that was of interest to me, Tipperary, because it combined historical fiction, gothic tales and romance into one book (and it sounded right up my alley). I was not confident that I would be picked, but alas, on an early Tuesday morning, I received a message that made my week: I was picked! I was picked!When the package arrived in the mail, I really felt important. Me, a bona fide amateur reviewer about to read an advanced reader copy of a new book. I cracked the spine and set to work.Twenty pages in and I was not impressed. It's a new book, the summary sounded fantastic and early comments on LibraryThing seemed encouraging. I kept reading.Page 126, and I am still underwhelmed. People comment that the books really takes off about 2/3 the way in. Okay, I kept plugging and plugging.Pages pass. I feel worse, almost guilty for wasting my precious reading time on a book that I am not enjoying. This feels like college again. I pass the 2/3 mark anticipating to be skyrocketed into literary bliss.It didn't happen. Gosh, I really wanted it to impact me, inspire me, entertain me. But Tipperary only bored me. To tears. In my opinion, there are three major flaws with this book:1) The two narrators didn't mesh for me. We understand the relationship of the unnamed narrator during the last half of the book, but by that time, he has lectured me so much on Irish history that I feel like a student in the Ferris Bueller movie ("Bueller, Bueller, anyone seen Bueller?") I really don't care about the narrator at this point because he has officially bored me.2) The other narrator, Charles O'Brien, has all the potential to be a lovable character. But he's really an oaf. And the Forrest Gump style of dropping him into famous historical settings got old very quickly. I would have preferred to hear about his interactions with the regular Irish person, not James Joyce or William Butler Yeats. And, he relies too much on his mother for my taste. He's forty years old and still having his mom pack his suitcase. Are you kidding me?3) When the narrators told their stories, it was mix and mingled. I think it would have flowed better if they had their own sections, or at least a visual clue to let you know who's turn it was.In summary, I was terribly disappointed in this book. I would not recommend it to anyone. Perhaps I should have consumed a pint of Irish ale before reading. What a shame - I hope the Irish like it at least.
neilandlisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had such high hopes for this book, having loved "Ireland" dearly. Delaney's unceasing adoration for his homeland is again evident here, through the narrative journals of Charles O'Brien, a 19th century healer. If the book consisted solely of O'Brien's epic tales and his love affair with Tipperary castle owner April Burke, the book would work.However, Delaney made a strategic error in having dual narrators. Just when O'Brien's stories really got exciting, the other narrator stepped in to reiterate everything with all the panache of Dr. Everett Von Scott, the scientist from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw make appearances but they seem to be just pointless cameos.Rarely have I found a book so tedious. Finally at page 200 or so (!) it seems to get to the point, such as it is (essentially remodeling the castle). It saddened me because I can't tell you how much I looked forward to reading "Tipperary." Even more so, I was anxious to give this book five stars. Sadly, I could barely finish it.Because of my love for "Ireland" and the occasional good tales by O'Brien, I give it two stars. Thank you to LT and Random House for the opportunity to be part of the ER group.
chellinsky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Overall, Tipperary was an enjoyable read. At first, I was afraid the novel would just be an Irish Forest Gump. The main character seems to touch and influence a vast array of characters in Irish history (a history I know relatively little about). At the same time, I found him, his love interest, and the narrator all extremely annoying personalities for the first half of the book. However, the narrator¿s involvement in the story and its eventual conclusion restored my faith in the author and the novel. I liked the varied tones for the different characters in the novel and the tight integration with historical events. In the end, Tipperary offers a slow, frustrating start, but it finishes strong and made the slog at the beginning worthwhile.
SharonGoforth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received Tipperary as a part of the Early Reviewers program. I was delighted to be selected for it, as I really enjoy reading historical fiction.Tipperary contains two stories. The first is the turbulent history of Ireland and its constant struggle for self-rule. The second is that of an affluent, middle-aged man struggling to decide what he wants to do with his life while trying to gain the affection of the woman he loves (and who constantly rejects him). The story of this man, Charles O'Brien, is told within the context of Ireland's rebellion and subsequent civil war in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Readers learn Charles' story not directly from him, but rather from his journal (or ¿history¿ as he calls it) and the diaries and letters of his family, friends and acquaintances. This is all told to readers through a narrator. This narrator, it turns out, has his own agenda in sharing Charles' story.Ordinarily, I would find a book like this fascinating. Unfortunately, though, the book's structure undermined it for me. I found it difficult to differentiate who was speaking. It was all written in first person, so it took awhile to determine if it was Charles speaking from his journal or the narrator giving background information. The author seems to relish Ireland's oral tradition of storytelling. This was fine, except that he (through the narrator) would give example after example, which, instead of making a point, came across as rambling tangents that had little to do with the story. That combined with the bumblings of the first 40-odd years of Charles' life (as told through his journal) made the first 1/3 of the book almost unreadable.It wasn't until readers were introduced to Charles through others' points of view that the story began to make sense. At that point, the story really took off and was very interesting. The author had Charles dancing on both sides of the rebellion, as he was trying to restore the neighboring Tipperary Castle and its estate to its former grandeur while at the same time aiding and abetting the IRA. I gave the book a 4 star rating because, once past page 125, the story really was very good. But there is too much wrong with it structurally as is to give it anything higher.
momom248 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really tried to like this book, but it just didn't happen. From the first page nothing grabbed me. It was a chore to read. I can usually read w/ background noise, but not so with this book. I had to have complete quiet to read it. I kept having to re-read pages. The narrative with it goes from Charles O'Briens story to the current day narrator was totally confusing. I couldn't tell who was speaking until I read it for a while. I didn't like the main character--he was dull, boring, naive and sometimes totally stupid. I got about 3/4 through the book and just couldn't continue any further. It's a shame as I heard Frank Delaney's previous novel was excellent. I guess I expected the same with this one. I would like to thank Library Thing and Random House for the opportunity to read this book. I still love you Random House--just unfortunately not this book!
meeyauw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was half way through this novel until I began to be involved in it. The first half of the book was confusing with the different narrators. I do not understand even now, after finishing the book, why the first part of the book is even there. Delaney hits his stride in the second half. The narration is clearer, the drama is there, and finally the purpose of the novel becomes clear. I enjoyed the conflict between Charles and April, the Irish history and the engagement of the characters in the book, the restoration of the castle. All parts were fascinating, but none of these parts were in the first half.After having too many historical characters introduced in the first half of the novel, I began to wonder if this was an Irish Forrest Gump. But the name-dropping returned to a reasonable level in the last half.It's difficult to recommend a book that I did not like until over 100 pages were read. But the last half is so compelling that I would recommend it with the above warnings.
omphale23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Be careful about me. Be careful about my country and my people and how we tell our history."I have a fairly well-established love for unreliable narrators, and for Irish literature. That said, I usually prefer that my unreliable narrators not telegraph themselves *quite* so blatantly on the first page. It works here, but only just barely.It took most of 75 pages for me to really get into the story, but once I did things hummed along nicely until nearly the very end. The characters were complicated and real, the settings were gorgeous, the events themselves were slipped into a broader historical narrative.That said, this was one of the few times that a sudden twist at the end really didn't work for me. It's odd that something could be both telegraphed so early and seem so entirely unrelated to the main force of the story, the narrative that was actually interesting and unique.Slow beginning, strong middle, disappointing plot twist at the end. I've recommended it to a few people, but am on the fence about rereading it myself.
Michele on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(These comments apply to the advanced reader¿s edition)I had high hopes for this book, having read Delaney's novel "Ireland" and had the opportunity to hear him talk about that book and Irish history on an author tour. Unfortunately, I found "Tipperary" to be only moderately engaging, and had difficulty staying connected to the characters and storyline.Following Charles O'Brien through this tumultuous period in Irish history, the reader is introduced to both some of the major players in the country's history (Wilde, Yeats, and Shaw) as well as to ordinary people evicted from their homes and brought low in other ways by the cruel times in which they lived. While the overall story of "Tipperary" wasn't as good as Delaney's earlier novel, his ability to create memorable vignettes and to draw out the unique, small stories that really make a country's history made this book enjoyable, even if it wasn't truly memorable.
dyanny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book started off with a good story, then slowly became difficult to follow. The story changed from the ninetheenth century character speaking to the modern day narrator without a clear line. I have read Delaney's other books and enjoyed them all. I am sorry I can't say the same about this book. I kept reading hopeing it would pick up, to me it didn't. I can only rate it 2.5 And that is only because of the first few chapters.
clamairy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Played out against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods of Irish history, Tipperary doesn't read like a history lesson, yet it paints a vivid picture of those brutal days. If it is a love story, then it is a tale of the Irish and their great love of the land, revealed through journal entries, some penned more than half a century apart. This device works well, if a bit awkwardly in a few places. The overall effect is one of a chorus of voices weaving a complex tale of turmoil, with the predominant theme being the people's great passion for Ireland itself. The romances between people mostly take a back seat here, thankfully. We see predominantly through the eyes of Charles O'Brien, who has an almost Forest Gump-like ability to meet and interact with nearly every important player who graced that period of Irish history. His encounters include that tragic genius Oscar Wilde, the legendary Charles Parnell, those brilliant writers William Butler Yeats and James Joyce, and culminate with his interactions with many crucial participants in the battle for Irish Home Rule, including Michael Collins himself. While I initially felt these meeting to be too contrived, I came to the realization that a member of the Irish upper class in that period could indeed have interacted with many of the history makers of those days.I could barely put the book down while finishing off the final third of it, and having finished, I am left not only with a longing to fill those woefully large gaps in my knowledge of Irish History, but also with a desire to seek out more works by Frank Delaney.
tapestry100 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read and thoroughly loved Frank Delaney's Ireland last year while enjoying a holiday in Dublin, I was thrilled to learn that I had been selected to receive an Advanced Reader's Copy of his new novel, Tipperary.Let me say upfront that this review is based solely on what I've read of Tipperary (I've only been able to make it to page 190) as I have no desire to finish the novel.I find myself comparing both of his novels as mirror images of each other. Both tell a history; Ireland, a history of the land told by a man, and Tipperary, a history of a man told through his land. Ireland reads like a remarkable novel disguised as an engrossing history lesson, while Tipperary reads like a prolonged history lesson disguised as a chaotic novel. Ireland has multiple narrators, each voicing his part of the story through clearly separated chapters that tie nicely into each other and weave a wonderful story. Tipperary jumps from narrator to narrator, not always with a clear picture of who is telling what part of the story.Tipperary follows the twin stories of the narrator, who lives "now," and is researching the journals and papers of Charles O'Brien, who writes of his homeland and the love of his life that he discovers in England. Through a happenstance meeting with Oscar Wilde, he learns that the woman who has stolen his heart may in fact be the rightful owner of Tipperary Castle, which just so happens to be located next door to the O'Brien family's land, and of which she has no prior knowledge, since her true ancestry is a mystery. Truthfully, in my eyes, this all seems a little too contrived and coincidental. The back and forth telling of this story between a combination of Charles O'Brien's journals, stories that he relates from the people he meets in his journeys, his mother's journals and other random correspondence, along with the narrator's frequent interruptions in the story to have his say in the matter, make for a less than cohesive reading experience. I found myself struggling just to keep clear who it was telling the story, and for me, a book should not be a struggle to read, but an escape.There are some who will love this book, and to them I give my blessing. Frank Delaney is a gifted writer, as evidenced, at least to me, by his previous novel, Ireland. My copy is a well-traveled and loved edition at this point, being lent to many a friend for their enjoyment. It seems that Delaney tried to replicate the same idea with Tipperary, to tell a grand and epic story of Ireland through the eyes of his characters, but somewhere along this particular journey, he definitely lost his way. Someday, I will revisit this book, and see where the journey takes me then, but for now, I find myself simply not caring what happens to Charles O'Brien as I glance longingly at the stack of books next to me that are crying out to be read.
merigreenleaf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was excited to be picked to review a book, and extremely happy when I found out it was a book about Ireland and in which Oscar Wilde has a short cameo.However, I ended up slightly disappointed. I had a hard time finishing the book, and coming from someone with a degree in English (focusing on history and dry Brit Lit), that says a lot for the quality of the book, I think. The storyline in general was good, and I liked how history and fiction were tied together, but the characterization wasn't as good as I had hoped. It was hard for me to sympathize with a main character who was, when it comes down to it, a pushover. The main female character wasn't much better; her characterization and how the other characters thought of her flip-flopped around far too often to even be resolved by the narration explaining her complicated backstory. The backing characters were much better, in my opinion, but they couldn't make up for the lack of the two main ones. As for the narration, I have to say it grew on me as the story progressed. At first I was a little annoyed when the point of view kept switching from the past to the present, but I came to like the fact that the story was told by many different people.All in all, I'd say it's not the worst book I've ever read, but it's certainly not the best, either. I'd recommend the book to someone interested in Ireland's history, but not to someone looking for a light read, or who, like myself, finds good characterization to be the best part of a story.
knittingfreak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Apologies for the delay in posting this...I received this book as part of the early reviewers program. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. The book really held my attention at first, but somewhere toward the end, it really slowed down. Then the resolution seemed to come about too quickly -- in just a couple of pages. I found it hard to believe the way April suddenly accepted the proposal of Charles after 20-plus years. I really did like the book, but I think it could have been about 100 pages shorter.The book tells the story of Charles O'Brien and his obsession with Tipperary, an old, abandoned castle, and April Burke, who happens to be the heir to the castle. The book chronicles O'Brien's life parallel to the history of Ireland and the struggle for independence. I really enjoyed the way in which the author includes historical figures, such as Oscar Wilde. Overall, I really enjoyed the book -- good writing, great descriptions, and interesting format. I have another book by Delaney, Ireland, which I haven't read, yet. I will definitely put it towards the top of the tbr pile after having read Tipperary.
Booknose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This review pertains to an Advanced Readers Edition:I love Irish history and books set in Ireland, I feel like I have been there many times through the books I have read. I was excited to travel there again with Frank Delaney's Tipperary. The first point I was struck by in reading Tipperary was not the switching back and forth as many other reviewers were irritated by but by the main character himself. I just found him intensely dislikable. I found it no real surprise that the object of his affections did not like him either. Although I have to say I didn't like her any better. I think this could have been a very good book had it not been for the very unlikable main characters. I didn't finish the book, I got to about page 150 and gave up. I kept the book in my TBR to try at a later date, so it wasn't completely awful, but I do hope a second try will find the characters more amenable. I am very much a mood reader, so if my mood was such that I could not accept the characters as they were portrayed, I may end up liking them better in a second try. Thanks to Librarything and Random House for the opportunity to read this Advance Readers Copy.
wizardsheart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I feel guilty for not reviewing this book sooner, because I got it through the Early Reviewer program. However, I just thought that the book was so awful. Even though I tried to get into it two different times, I just couldnt get through this book. I tried on two different times when I was in different moods and I couldnt get anywhere either time. It was confusing and pointless. I enjoy books with alternating narrators. But I had a hard time with the two narrators in this book because I didn't think that they had their own unique voice. They were hard to tell apart. I also get irritated when famous people just "pop in and out" of books. I just happened to be walking down the street and ran into Oscar Wilde. I guess the basics is just that the book didn't capture anything for me and I couldnt immerse myself into its pages.However, it is important to note that I DIDNT finish this book. So maybe some of the issues that I had with it would have been solved by having made it to the end. I just couldnt force myself to finish it.
eejjennings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got this book as part of the Early Reviewers program and was thrilled. I had read Delaney's earlier book about Ireland and had learned a lot. In both books, the author seems interested in the story-telling process itself. Tipperary was one of the more complex books of historical fiction I've read. The author tells his story with two alternating voices, a narrator contemporary to the events in the book and a more modern narrator who is looking back into Irish history. Both narrators have personal interests in the events of the story, and at first it was a bit confusing. Once I became comfortable with the author's style, the stories came alive.Good historical fiction is the telling of the stories of fascinating and powerful human beings whose lives and actions have powerful impacts on their times. Ultimately, this was a very satisfying read for those who are interested in the origins of the Irish Troubles and the human cost of that era.
gwoodrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate enough to get an advance reader's edition copy of this book within a couple weeks prior of my first trip to Ireland. It was just to Dublin, but still -- it gave me a better understanding of the country I was reading about.I wasn't unimpressed, per se, but I did often drift while reading this. My eyes would wander towards another book in my stack I was reading and my thoughts would turn outward away from the story. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly captivating, either. And while breaking the "fourth wall" in a story of any sort can be a valuable literary tool, doing so constantly with all of the historical context interludes by an additional narrator (even if the interludes are fiction, too) is distracting. The dual narrator setup used to tell a story that, while interesting, isn't really engrossing made me have to read this thing in installments instead of enthrallment. Remember back to your grade school days when the class would read passages aloud, then stop for the teacher to rant/explicate/elaborate? Imagine having that same experience actually in print, on the page, through the entire book. And there you have "Tipperary."Ultimately, despite my interest in Ireland and its literature, I had to give up on it.
NeedMoreShelves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tipperary takes us to Ireland at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, where a revolution is beginning to stir. It is the story of Charles O'Brien, a wandering healer, and his pursuit of a woman and a dream. We hear Charles' story in his own words, and in the words of a modern-day narrator, who interrupts Charles' story with bits of history about the characters and the times. The parts of the book in Charles' voice were an interesting read. I found myself rooting for the simple, naive man as he tried over and over to win the heart of his true love. Many times, the other narrator felt more like a history text and less like a work of fiction. It wasn't until the last third of the book that his part in the story started to become clear. Perhaps the story would have worked better for me in a different format - one third of the book in Charles' voice, one third in the other narrator's voice, and the last third with the two combined. Ultimately, I don't think this book will persuade me to seek out more by Delaney, but I did appreciate the chance to give him a try.
iammbb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been a bit delinquent.I received this book on August 6, 2007 as part of the Advance Reader's program through LibraryThing and read it soon thereafter, finishing it on 8/27/07.Part of the deal with the Advance Reader's program is that, in return for a free copy of the book, you're supposed to review the book. It doesn't matter if it's a good review or not, you're just supposed to review it.For some reason, I wasn't very motivated to review this one. I don't know if it was because I only read it out of obligation. I had requested it so I had to follow through on my part of the deal.I don't know if it was because I wasn't thrilled with it. I don't know if it was because I felt obliged to be kind.Just not sure.But, I was in Explore, Aspen's local bookstore, the other day and I saw Tipperary displayed on the counter with the new releases. Checking with Amazon, I found that the book had been published 11/6/07.So, here I am, writing this review. More as a clearing it off my to do list and assuaging my guilt than anything else.Not such a great lead-in, huh? Not making you want to rush out and read it, am I?Rightfully so, perhaps.I'm fairly ambivalent about this book. I found it a bit difficult to get going. I often found the protagonist annoying.Let me back up a bit. The book is a cross between historical fiction and a romance novel. It's a romance novel from a male perspective but a romance novel nonetheless. Set in Ireland during the turn of the century, the book unconvincingly entwines the simple, country-boy protagonist, Charles O'Brien, with many a famous individual.The book is written as Charles' journals and for most of the narrative takes on the often stunted prose of an amateur diarist. Delany also resorts to the improbable artifice of the discovery of writings from O'Brien's mother when faced with the need to include a perspective other than Charles'.Towards the end of the book, I did start to get interested in the resolution of the "mystery" involving our present day narrator. Not being very familiar with Irish history, I also found some redeeming educational features in O'Brien's story.I didn't hate it but wouldn't recommend it except to someone with a particular interest in the author, the Irish people or the period.I do understand that Delany's other book, Ireland, which I have not read, comes much more highly recommended.