REVIEW – Shadow of a Century – An Irish Love Story by Jean Grainger

I’m not usually one for titles that declare upfront they’re a love story. And to be fair, reading this book came at completely the wrong time for me. I’d started reading it during what I thought was a supposed rough patch with my boyfriend and what soon turned into a pancake to soften the blow ‘I’m just not in love with you’ break up. But in a way, this book helped with the thoughts swimming around my head, weirdly.
The story follows journalist Scarlett O’Hara, cringing at her unfortunate name, cursing her Irish father and avoiding the spotlight after her high profile affair with a Senator goes public. A chance encounter brings her to Eileen, an old lady who’s house had just been broken into, and the chance to hear the story of Eileen’s parents, Irish revolutionaries at the time of the Easter Rising.
So we then jump seamlessly around time, to pre-WW1 Dublin. Mary Doyle has journeyed to the big city to work in a big house and through the influence of her employer and friends, becomes involved in the movement for an independent Ireland. The friends she makes along the way is reminiscent of that age old storyline that a young orphan moves to the city and find where she belongs. But it didn’t feel gimmicky,
I can’t give away too much about the love story aspect of it for risk of giving away spoilers, but I just loved the delicate intertwining of the past and present and how Eileen felt that she could never settle down because of the storybook romance her parents enjoyed. Throughout the book I couldn’t help but feel bad for her because (potential spoiler alert) – their love never had the chance to bloom and was always stuck in the idealistic honeymoon phase. But I love how Scarlett’s narrative intertwined with Eileen’s story and that of her parents.
I concur with other reviews, definitely not just an Irish love story. So much more.
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