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Julia Justiss | Irish Eyes

In honor of the Wearin’ of the Green, this month we’ll look at stories featuring characters who hail from the Emerald Isle.  Slainte!

The Irishman's Daughter by V.S. Alexander

Moving chronologically, we begin with THE IRISHMAN’S DAUGHTER by V.S. Alexander.  Briana Walsh loves her home at Carrowteige, County Mayo, where her father Brian is the land agent at Lear House for the English owner, Sir Thomas Blakely.  Brian’s job requires him to collect rents from the tenant farmers, which they pay by selling rye and oats, while for their own food, they grow potatoes. Times are always hard for farmers, including Brian Caulfield, the young man Briana loves and wants to marry.  But then in 1845, blight destroys the potato crop, virtually eliminating the food upon which the poor depend.  When the following year, the crop fails again, starvation and disease devastate the Irish.  Wanting his daughters to survive, their father sends a now-married and pregnant Briana and her sister to America.  Instead of endless opportunity, the girls find prejudice and poverty, only the assistance of other Irish helping them to endure the ghetto and find employment.  Through it all, though she longs for her Irish home, Briana perseveres, her efforts bent to surviving and reuniting her family.  Alexander’s novel gives a detailed depiction of the tragedy that decimated the population of Ireland and brought a whole wave of immigrants to America.

Of Irish Blood by Mary Pat Kelly

With OF IRISH BLOOD by Mary Pat Kelly offers us a trilogy of books based on the life of her great-great-grandmother and then great aunt that progresses from the Famine through the 1960’s.  The first, GALWAY BAY, begins before the potato blight.  Though young Honora Keeley was promised to the church, when she meets Michael Kelly, it’s love at first sight.  They marry, but after several years of blight, having been evicted from their small farm and determined to save their children, they sail to America with the family of Honora’s widowed sister Maire.  After landing first in New Orleans, they head for Chicago, where they’ve heard Michael’s brother has settled.  Life in that frontier city is difficult, but the two sisters are determined to persevere—and flourish.  In Book Two, OF IRISH BLOOD, we move to 1903.   Nora Kelly, Honora’s independent, progressive granddaughter, values career over marriage.  But after her long-time lover tries to kill her when she breaks off the relationship, she flees to Paris to start a new life.  Using her design skills, she works for a couturier, finds a community among other Irish and becomes involved in the movement for Irish independence, falling for a man passionate about the cause.  While in Paris and when serving as a nurse in World War I, she meets and mingles with virtually all the luminaries of the time—Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, William Butler Yeats, Gabrielle Chanel, and James Joyce, among many others.  Kelly finishes her saga in Book Three, IRISH ABOVE ALL.  Now a veteran photographer, Nora returns to Chicago, where she uses her skills to assist her cousin, Ed Kelly, in his political career.  Her chance capture of an assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin Roosevelt catapults her into another level of danger, where she must balance her obligations to her family with national concerns.  Though this journey, in her capacity as a photographer of current events, she encounters another round famous individuals—Al Capone, Joseph Kennedy, intimates in the circle of FDR, and even Mussolini.  But in the end, it is her trip back to Ireland that brings Nora—and Kelly’s saga—full circle.

The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey

We end with THE LINEN QUEEN by Patricia Falvey.  When beauty Sheila McGee wins the 1941 Linen Queen competition, she’s sure the prize money will be her ticket out of her small Northern Ireland village, her dreary linen mill job and living with her unstable mother, pious aunt and lascivious uncle.  Then World War II intervenes, the Belfast blitz leading to travel restrictions that stymie her plans to leave.  Another possibility of escape comes when American troops are based in the village; despite the objections of childhood friend Gavin O’Rouke, Sheila hopes to entice handsome Jewish-American officer Joel Solomon.  But as the war intensifies, bringing with it a young evacuee from Belfast, the initially totally self-centered and manipulative Sheila comes to recognize the suffering around her, even as her feelings for Joel deepen.  Falvey gives us a vivid coming-of-age story that paints a fascinating picture of Northern Ireland during World War II.

Ready to immerse yourself in stories about the hardy and resourceful children of the Emerald Isle?  Grab a green beer or a Guiness and settle in to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the company of some tenacious and triumphant folk.

About Julia Justiss

Julia Justiss

Real, intense, passionate historical romance


Award-winning romance author Julia Justiss, who has written more than thirty historical novels and novellas set in the English Regency and the American West, just completed her first contemporary series set in the fictional Hill Country town of Whiskey River, Texas.

A voracious reader who began jotting down plot ideas for Nancy Drew novels in her third grade spiral, Julia has published poetry and worked as a business journalist.

She and her husband live in East Texas, where she continues to craft the stories she loves. Check her website for details about her books, chat with her on social media, and follow her on Bookbub and Amazon to receive notices about her latest releases.


Regency Silk & Scandal | Hadley’s Hellions | Ransleigh Rogues | Whiskey River Christmas | Sisters of Scandal | Wellingfords | Cinderella Spinsters | Heirs in Waiting | The McAllister Brothers | Least Likely to Wed





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