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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Kelegeen by Eileen O’Finlan is a wonderful story, a tale of a people and a place in trying times. It is Ireland in 1846 and while engaged couple Meg O’Connor and Rory Quinn are happily preparing for their wedding, while they join other villagers in the moon dance, they are unaware that a painful scourge is about to hit the land. The people who depend on the soil for their livelihood wake up a few days after the moon dance to a horrible sight — their crops are being destroyed by blight. The people have known hunger, but this time it is something different. Meg and Rory work hard to find other ways of providing for their family, but tragedy and their own mistakes end their source of income. Only one way is left to save their families and Meg is ready to grab the opportunity, no matter how uncertain it seems: she will join the ship to America, and hopefully bring their families after.
This is a compelling story filled with emotion, a beautiful story beautifully told. It features memorable characters like Father O’Malley and the British Doctor, Martin Parker. The author captures the culture of the Irish people with skill, creating a setting that readers can easily visualize. The writing is confident and gorgeous, filled with wonderful descriptions and dialogues. Eileen O’Finlan has a gift for plot and character and readers feel the sense of despair in the community and Meg’s resolve to find solutions. The conflict is introduced from the moment the villagers discover the blight and how the lives of the characters are changed irreversibly. Kelegeen features themes of love, family, friendship, and survival. It is a gripping story that is suspenseful and hard to put down, filled with historical references and social commentaries that allow readers a glimpse of the Irish soul.