Bittersweet Tapestry

A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
359 Pages
Reviewed on 11/05/2019
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Bittersweet Tapestry is a work of historical fiction set in Europe in the eighteenth century and was penned by author Kevin O’Connell. The novel continues The Derrynane Saga after the exciting events of Beyond Derrynane and Two Journeys Home, wherein we met a cast of characters spread out across Catholic Europe as they sought marriage, fortune and promising social connections. In this new and even more eventful volume, we meet Eileen and Arthur O’Leary in the summer of 1770 as they bring their family back to Ireland to settle in. Their ties to the different Irish families who have settled in Europe and serve different kings and dynasties keep them connected as the continent falls into its darkest and bloodiest regimes yet.

If you’re looking for a historical fiction novel which has all the glamour and social intrigue of Hapsburg high society, combined with the bloodthirsty and dangerous world of France and Ireland on the brink of social revolutions, then this is the book for you. It was quite incredible to see the skill with which author Kevin O’Connell keeps pace with the ever-changing political dynamics of Europe, and yet deftly allows that to take a backseat to the dramas of Hugh, Eileen and the rest as they simply try to love and live on the verge of chaos. The dialogue is accessible but sounds authentically aged, whilst the evolution of Irish Catholic culture in different parts of Europe was really interesting to learn about. Overall, Bittersweet Tapestry is an excellent addition to an already superb series.

Rabia Tanveer

Bittersweet Tapestry: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell is the story of resilience and determination as a family tries to make do with the cards they are dealt with while trying to survive the testing waters of time. It all began when young 16 year old Eileen was married off to a much, much older and richer man in Ireland, only to have him die and making her a young widow. Returned to her small town of Derrynane, she and her sister Abigail are sent to Vienna where things take a different turn for her. While her sister becomes principal lady-in-waiting for the Empress, Eileen was the governess to Maria Antonia who loved her very much. So when her little charge became Marie Antoinette, she comes back to Ireland along with her husband Captain Arthur O’Leary, their little son and her dear friend. This is when she is tested truly and fully as she tries to settle back in a land that she has been away for many years. Her family is being tested just as much, but there seems to be a special brand of danger after her and her husband. The Protestant Ascendancy is hovering over them like a dark cloud, ready to rain down on them hard at the slightest of vulnerability. They want something from them and they want it all costs. What are Eileen and her family going to do?

This is an epic tale that took me on a journey in the late 1700s where I was lost in the thrilling sage of these two families. I thought I would be confused by the many characters that I won’t be able to form any connection with any of them, but I was so wrong. Each character is special and adds to the story. Eileen stood out the most to me, but Arthur (Art) and Hugh were stronger characters. I enjoyed reading how intelligently they handled the situations. Hugh, especially, was the star for me. He had to grow up a little too quickly; he had to look past the glitz and glamour of the French court. There is action, drama, powerful narrative, perfect flow and incredible development in this novel. I didn’t want this novel to end and I genuinely hope that there is more to come from these incredible characters.

Romuald Dzemo

Bittersweet Tapestry: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell is an engaging narrative with a strong historical setting and a lot of drama. Eileen O’Connell has had a rather trying experience from the time she turned sixteen and leaves home to marry a man who dies a few months later. But this ushers Eileen and her sister Abigail into a new adventure as they move to Vienna at a time when the Hapsburg Empire was at its highest glory. For nine years, Eileen serves as governess to the Empress’s youngest daughter. The reader is introduced to the fond relationship between Eileen and the woman who became known in history as the Queen of France — Marie Antoinette. But when tragedy strikes, can things ever be the same?

This is a well-written novel with a strong setting starting in the summer of 1770 in Ireland. The international setting explores the political climate at the time. Themes of politics, family, and colonialism are expertly woven into the fabric of this tale and readers get vivid and compelling images of an Ireland that is under English rule. Kevin O'Connell writes beautifully and the culture against which the narrative evolves is clearly depicted, with dialogues that reflect the milieu and characters that are elaborately developed. Bittersweet Tapestry: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe reinvents a Europe that readers will find delight in exploring and characters that they will want to follow. It is a bittersweet story that explores the tragedies in individual lives while capturing the political tensions and winds blowing across Europe.