For March, a bevy of books rich in Irish tradition


By John HooverGood Reads1 copy

Faith and begorrah! T’is the time for the wearing of the green and we here at Misty Valley Books are all ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Our Good Reads recommendations this month all have something to do with the Emerald Isle either taking place there or dealing with the Irish immigrant experience in America. So, sit down with one of our recommendations and get ready to be transported to the auld country!

IrelandFor our Ireland themed Good Reads column Lynne says, “if you’re thinking of visiting Ireland, I strongly recommend that you read Ireland ($14.99) by Frank Delaney. In 1951, the last storyteller left in Ireland arrives in a village and tells his magical tales for three evenings. These tales are the history of Ireland and they will make Ireland and its history come alive for you — better than a travel guide!”

One of the quintessential novels of Ireland is Bill’s recommendation for March.james joyce portrait “James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ($3.50) is Joyce’s first novel. (I wish Misty Valley Books had been around in 1916 to have him as a New Voice!) Portrait is the story of alter-ego Stephen Daedalus, rebelling against Irish tradition. It’s a good story and far more comprehensible than Ulysses or Finnegan’s Wake.”

faithful placeAmanda says, “If you enjoy detective fiction, I highly recommend Irish author Tana French’s Faithful Place ($16) and Broken Harbor ($16). Set in 1980s Dublin, Faithful Place offers a rich combination of characters and setting, with lots of suspense thrown in. Broken Harbor, set amid a desolate half-completed, half-abandoned housing development, evokes the boom and bust of Ireland’s recent economy. Add a vicious murder into the mix, along with a brooding, self-doubting detective, and you have a story that’s hard to put down. I haven’t read French’s In the Woods or The Likeness, but Misty Valley customers tell me they’re excellent and are both on my to-read list!

Kim recommends Murphy’s Law ($7.99) the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series by Rhys Bowen. Murphys lawSet in turn of the century New York, spunky Irish immigrant Molly Murphy finds herself caught up in murder, mystery and mayhem around every corner. After initially leaving Ireland under mysterious circumstances, she arrives at Ellis Island under a false name, and under suspicion of murder. To clear her name, she becomes a detective, hunting down leads within the seedier neighborhoods of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Murphy’s Law is a great snapshot of the immigrant experience, as well as a fascinating look at the history of early 20th century New York City.

For younger readers Jory suggests The Bog Child ($9.99), by Siobhan Dowd. “This beautifully written YA novel takes place in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Fergus, the young teen protagonist, discovers a body buried in the bog, preserved for thousands of years by peat moss. irish country doctorAs archaeologists come to investigate, Fergus gets swept up into the history of Ireland, the crazy world of the IRA his brother is involved with, and his growing emotions for Cora, an archaeologist’s daughter. Dowd writes some of the most moving prose I’ve ever read.”

My recommendation for March is Patrick Taylor’s An Irish Country Doctor ($14.95). Set in the village of Ballybucklebo in Northern Ireland, the novel tells the story of young Dr. Barry Laverty who joins the established medical practice of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. Filled with quirky characters and lots of humor An Irish Country Doctor does for humans in Ireland what James Herriot did for animals in Yorkshire. An Irish Country Doctor is the first of nine novels in the Irish Doctor series. princes of ireland

I am also a lover of good historical fiction and there are few authors in this genre who do a better job than Edward Rutherfurd. For our St. Patrick’s Day column, I would also like to suggest his two-volume series on Irish history, The Princes of Ireland ($18) and The Rebels of Ireland ($16.95). Princes begins in AD 403 and follows the fortunes of a number of families in and around the area of present day Dublin to AD 1533. Rebels is the sequel and carries  the story of the Irish quest for independence into the 20th century.

Next month look for our recommendations of mysteries and thrillers that might just keep you up late at night.


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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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  1. Harry Milkman says:

    I highly recommend “Smarty Girl, Dublin Savage” by Honor Molloy. In addition to writing a terrific book, Honor has visited Chester several times, and her favorite place in town is Misty Valley Books!