There is a word in the German language that describes feeling homesick for a place you’ve never been. That word is Fernweh. This is how I have felt about Ireland for a long time. Wanderlust, the desire to travel, also describes how I feel. I have had a deep fascination with the folklore, myth, and landscape of Ireland for so long that I was very excited about the second round of this literary journey.
Title: The Yellow House
Author: Patricia Falvey
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2009
The Yellow House looks at the passion and politics of Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 20th Century. Eileen O’Niell’s family is torn apart by the religious intolerance of the time and past secrets. She is determined to reclaim her ancestral home and reunite her family, through working at a local mill and saving her money. As war is declared on a local and global scale she cannot separate the politics from the personal impact on her own life. She is then torn between two men, one is charismatic and passionate and determined to win Irish independence. The other is a wealthy and handsome black sheep of a pacifist family. She lives through trauma and heartbreak in the hopes of making her a dream a reality.
IT MADE ME CRY! Guys! It made me cry! Okay, sorry, but I had to say it. It has been a long time since I have cried while reading a book. This book started so beautifully. The imagery and the writing in it evoked this deep longing. It really made me want to be there. To experience the Irish countryside. It made me want to see what it was like in that time, what the landscape and the people were like. As I kept reading I realized that it was not going to be so beautiful and idyllic. It became evident that this story was going to break my heart and put it back together again.
The story follows Eileen O’Niell and her family. She deals with so many hardships! I was so enthralled in her story. She lost her home, her family, but she never lost her courage or her bravery. She held onto a dream of buying back her childhood home and bringing her family together. This dream is what kept her alive and working through all the pain she dealt with.
It was honestly really fascinating and heartbreaking to read about the war and the releigious war that happened in 20th century Ireland. I didn’t know a lot about the history of Ireland before diving into the book. I had bits and pieces of knowledge of the history, but I had never really looked into it very much. Though this book was a fiction novel it still had elements of what really happened, as in the basic events happening in the larger world were accurate.
Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect from this one going into it. All I knew was that it was a historical fiction set in Ireland. It did not disappoint. It was so emotional. It really made me feel like I was in Ireland and surrounded by the culture and the people. I felt so much for Eileen that there were moments in the book where I wanted to shake her and tell her she was making the wrong decisions. There were a few sections where it felt a bit slow, but I would still recommend it to anyone interested in 20th century Ireland and historical fiction novels.
I will soon be moving on to the next leg of this journey: France!
Stay tuned for the next installment.