Recently, I realized how much pleasure I derive from reading international fiction with an Irish flair; must be that Irish blood coursing through my veins or a previous lifetime spent roaming locales like Donaghadee, Ballyskeagh or Glengormley. I've escaped to settings like these in the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor and Heather Barbieri's The Lace Makers of Glenmara.
The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey is international, historical fiction which takes readers to Northern Ireland during the early 1900's (the beginning of Northern Ireland's fight for independence from Great Britain). Written in the first person narrative, Eileen O'Neill tells her family's story of struggles with death, mental illiness, political and religious intollerence, and avarice.
In Falvey's debut novel you meet strong, complex characters. Young Eileen loves the home she shares with her parents, her older brother and younger sister. Her Grandda won the house in a card game. One hundred years after that fateful card game, the entire family paints their home bright, cheerful yellow to match the happiness within.
The pleasure of that act quickly fades. Ireland is unstable and so is Eileen's family. Facing the loss of various family members and the yellow house, Eileen formulates a goal. Someday she hopes to reunite what's left of her family back inside the walls of that beloved home. The future of her family becomes Eileen's burden. She takes a job in the Queensbrook Spinning Mill. As the story evolves, Eileen becomes enmeshed in the political and religious turmoil of the time. Eileen is also torn between her feelings for two very different men, Owen Sheridan, a British Army officer and son of the Quaker family who owns the mill, and James Conlon, an intensely emotional Irish nationalist.
The Yellow House is a family saga with all the necessary elements to keep the reader engaged; plot twists, strong Irish characters, and historical significance.