Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Through The Barricades is an Irish based historical fiction.
The prologue opens in 1906, a house fire. Maggie Gilligan’s father gets her to safety out of a bedroom window. His last words to her are “Make a difference in the world, Maggie”.
Chapter one begins in 1913, Dublin. It is seven years after her father’s death. Maggie meets Daniel and Michael, two boys who help her with a flat bicycle tyre. They talk of trouble in the city, strikers are causing riots, Maggie fiercely defends them to the surprise of the boys.
Daniel is intrigued by Maggie, his privileged upbringing has sheltered him from the plight of the poor. He is determined to see Maggie again and learn more. Maggie challenges Daniel to help her at a food kitchen and her determination to help those in need and fight for their rights opens his eyes to so much more.
They become friends, joining the Na Fianna, a scouts youth group, but one of many rebel groups within Ireland wanting equality and an end to British rule. Daniel realises that all his education has been about British history, he hears of the 1695 Penal laws used to suppress the Irish. As his love for Maggie grows, so does her determination to fight for Ireland. Desperate to protect her he believes that when WW1 breaks out if he signs up and fights for the British army they will allow home rule for the Irish once the war is over.
The war for Daniel and Michael is terrible, they are sent to Gallipoli and the reality is devastating. Back home Maggie cannot rest, she takes on dangerous work for the rebels which culminates in the Easter Rising of 1916.
I really enjoyed this book, I read it all in one afternoon and evening as I was so engrossed in the storyline, the passion of the characters, the historical detail and the experience I came away with from reading this. Like Daniel I learnt about the background to the Easter Rising, and I learnt about what it was probably like fighting in Gallipoli. Truly horrific on both accounts.
Recommended for those who like good detailed historical fiction, yes it is laced with a romantic theme, but it was subtle enough to be part of the passion of the book.
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She was willing to sacrifice everything for her country. He was willing to sacrifice everything for her.
‘Make a difference in the world,’ are the last words Maggie Gilligan’s father ever says to her. They form a legacy that she carries in her heart, years later when, at the age of fifteen, she tries to better the lives of Dublin’s largely forgotten poor.
‘Don’t go getting distracted, now,’ is what Daniel Healy’s father says to him after seeing him talking to the same Maggie Gilligan. Daniel is more than distracted. He is intrigued. Never has he met anyone as dismissive, argumentative . . . as downright infuriating.
A dare from Maggie is all it takes. Daniel volunteers at a food kitchen. There, his eyes are opened to the plight of the poor. It is 1913 and Dublin’s striking workers have been locked out of their jobs. Their families are going hungry. Daniel and Maggie do what they can. Soon, however, Maggie realises that the only way to make a difference is to take up arms.
The story of Maggie and Daniel is one of friendship, love, war and revolution, of two people prepared to sacrifice their lives: Maggie for her country, Daniel for Maggie. Their mutual sacrifices put them on opposite sides of a revolution. Can their love survive?
About the author
Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.
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