I have been so excited to review M.J. Neary’s newest book, Never Be At Peace! I have always been interested in Irish history and culture, especially considering my name, Erin, means Ireland! I had a guest post with her last month about her writing Irish history and you can view it HERE!
Never Be At Peace takes place in Ireland around the turn of the 19th century, at a time when the Irish independence movements were gaining speed. The novel’s main protagonist, Helena Molony, works to liberate Ireland, overcoming obstacles such as her gender and the entire British Empire that would have made a weaker person crumble.
This novel is fresh and new because it shows us the beginnings of the IRA and Sinn Fein, of the times of Michael Collins. Most of us know solely of the IRA and Sinn Fein in the 1970s and 1980s, when London was being bombed at an alarming rate. It is a look at the rebellious streak that defines the Irish.
All of Neary’s characters are well-formed, with hopes and losses, with love and death. We feel all of their emotions within ourselves as we read. Never Be At Peace is also fast-paced, where the military scenes are captivating. They are not sugar-coated nor overly gruesome, just enough that we know what is going on. We learn a lot of the strategy the IRA used at this time in trying to form their own independent Ireland and the toll the battles put on the independence fighters.
We see a whole new side of this story in Never Be At Peace. We have all heard the British side in our own lives, most of us anyway. We also have heard about the terrorists that made up the IRA in the 70s and 80s, but in this novel we see the members in the early days of the Irish Independence Movement on a human level. We remove the veil of violence and hate and see all as humans, with flaws and all. This is the greatest thing I took away from Neary’s book and I believe that all who read this will be better for it.
I would suggest this book to a fan of military history, but also to anyone who likes British or Irish History. The hostility between the British and Irish still has not ended, making this book timely and one that we all need to read to understand the past so that we can prevent the same type of death we saw then from happening in the future.
Never Be At Peace, Synopsis~
A pugnacious orphan from a bleak Dublin suburb, Helena Molony dreams of liberating Ireland. Her fantasies take shape when the indomitable Maud Gonne informally adopts her and sets her on a path to theatrical stardom – and political martyrdom. Swept up in the Gaelic Revival, Helena succumbs to the romantic advances of Bulmer Hobson, an egotistical Fenian leader with a talent for turning friends into enemies.
After their affair ends in a bitter ideological rift, she turns to Sean Connolly, a married fellow-actor from the Abbey Theatre, a man idolised in the nationalist circles. As Ireland prepares to strike against the British rule on Easter Monday, Helena and her comrades find themselves caught in a whirlwind of deceit, violence, broken alliances and questionable sacrifices.
In the words of Patrick Pearse, “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” For the survivors of the Rising, the battle will continue for decades after the last shot had been fired.
Author M.J. Neary, Biography~
A Chernobyl survivor adopted into the world of Anglo-Irish politics, Marina Julia Neary has dedicated her literary career to depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade to the Easter Rising in Dublin. Her mission is to tell untold stories, find hidden gems and illuminate the prematurely extinguished stars in history.
She explores human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand. Her debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom: a Tale of London Slums appeared on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal.
With the centennial of the Easter Rising approaching, she has written a series of novels exploring the hidden conflicts within the revolutionary ranks. Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels is a companion piece to Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916.