‘This series has a lot of potential’. Robbie reviews #Histfic The Winds Of Morning by @AuthorGMacShane

Today’s team review is from Robbie. She blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Robbie has been reading The Winds Of Morning by Gifford MacShane

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This story is set in Ireland during the potato famine. Molly O’Brien and her two brother have been left orphans following the deaths of their parents. Molly has taken her father’s job and is working to build a road in order to try and feed her brothers. The road goes no-where, and is merely a ploy by the authorities to force the starving Irish to work for their money in accordance with the mindset of the day. Her job as a stone breaker doesn’t bring in enough money to feed them and they are all in a bad way.

In desperation, Molly is in the process of making a decision to become a prostitute in order to feed her brothers, when a young man from a wealthy family, John Patrick, sees her. He intervenes to save Molly who he believes is planning to commit suicide. Molly is incredibly attractive, despite her circumstances and starvation and John Patrick chooses to save her and her brothers by marrying her.

His choice and Molly’s decision go ahead with a marriage to a stranger she does not love, changes the paths of both of their lives.

I have read other stories about the Irish famine and found them equally compelling to this book, however, this short story really charmed me. The author writes beautifully and the story has some nice and happy parts which offer relief from the horror of this historical era.

John Patrick is an honorable and upstanding fellow and despite his actions requiring a little suspension of belief due to their selflessness, he is a delightful character.

A lovely and entertaining short story. This series has a lot of potential and I would certainly be interested in reading more about these characters.

Desc 1

1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.

With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.

She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…

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A Novella that features the Irish potato famine. Noelle reviews The Winds Of Morning by @AuthorGMacShane

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading The Winds Of Morning by Gifford MacShane

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This is a novella, written as a prequel Donovan Family Saga by this author. I purchased this book for review.

The author is a gifted writer, with an excellent talent for creating the historical scene of 1848, when the potato crop failed in Ireland. What happened after that is made clear: The Protestant landlords abscond back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves. Rather than providing food to their citizens, the government allows the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily. There follows a period of mass starvation and disease, leading to the deaths of over a million people.


When her father and mother die of starvation, Molly O’Brien has no choice but to take her father’s place on a road gang, swinging a mallet to break rocks for a road running from her tiny village to the nearby river, in order to feed her family. There is no other work available, and even sixteen hours of labor does not pay enough to feed her younger brothers, who are dying of starvation as well.

One day, quietly facing the river, she decides that despite her deep-sown Catholic tenets, she will sell her body to the first man she encounters who will give her the price of a loaf of bread. The first man to see her, John Patrick Donovan, at first thinks she is going to throw herself in the river, but when she asks him for a loaf a bread up front, he realizes she’s decided to prostitute herself.  In Donovan, the author has created a gentle, caring, and thoughtful older man who does his best to save Molly and her brothers. His efforts extend to her small village, where the grain he was sent to buy was locked away by the landlord, who had fled: he opens the granary to the villagers, despite what that will cost his family.

When John Patrick takes her to the local church, where the priest informs her she will be married, she nearly faints at the miracle. She and her brothers are saved. John Patrick has fallen in love with her at first sight and knows this is the only way he can protect her honor until she grows stronger and accepts him.

Will his family accept Molly? What will they think of the money their son spent on saving her and her brothers and also in the village? How are his parents, who are well-off because the father runs a chandlery, dealing with the famine? Will Molly come to accept Donovan as her husband?

While this book was a lovely read, part historical and part romance, as are the author’s other books, two things jarred me somewhat. The first was the age difference between John Patrick and Molly. I had to remind myself that this was a different time, when girls married young and older husbands were often the norm. The other was, with few exceptions, the overwhelming ‘niceness’ of all the various characters. I would have preferred a little more grit. 

I recommend this lyrically and beautifully rendered novella to readers – despite the grim subject – to discover what happens to Molly and to understand the basis for the Donovan Saga.

Desc 1

1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.

With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.

She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Set during the tragedy that was the Great Potato Famine in early nineteenth century Ireland’. @SueBavey reviews #HistoricalFiction The Winds of Morning by @AuthorGMacShane

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading The Winds of Morning by Gifford MacShane

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Set during the tragedy that was the Great Potato Famine in early nineteenth century Ireland, this short novella is gripping and difficult to put down and I read it over the course of one day. It follows the fortunes of Molly, a young woman who has lost her Da and her Ma to starvation and a broken heart respectively. Her two brothers are both very sick when we meet her and she has come to the conclusion that in order to feed them she will have to turn to prostitution since her job breaking rocks for a road to be built is not earning enough money for the three of them.

Luckily for her and her youngest brother, Johnny, she is spotted by the hero of the tale, John Patrick Donovan. A well-off businessman with a kindly heart, he decides there and then to marry her and save both her and Johnny’s lives in the process. Unfortunately it is too late for her other brother, William.
Johnny was my favourite character in the story with his wit and charming smile. John Patrick is certain his nieces will have their heads turned by Johnny when they all return to Wexford together.

The plight of Ireland during this time is well described by the author and easily imagined, as is the fate of Molly and her brother, had John Patrick not chanced upon her:

“The old men had died first, and only a half-dozen of the fathers were still alive. The boys who could were working on the road gang. The women were weak—so weak they were unable to bear more children. The younger among them were confined to the workhouse. The old women were gone, too, except for Mother O’Fagan, a white witch said to live on the air she breathed. The chickens and pigs had been eaten these past two years or more. Even the benches were gone, except for the one that ringed the tree in the square. Father Boylan had arranged for them to be sold this past spring, and had spent the proceeds on corn meal and salt cod to feed the most needy of his flock. The food had not gone far, and most of those who had partaken were gone now, too.”

The Winds of Morning was a most enjoyable read full of historical detail and engaging storytelling. I highly recommend it.

Desc 1

1848: the third year the potato crop failed in Ireland. The Protestant landlords have absconded back to Britain, leaving the Catholic peasants to fend for themselves, while the English government allowed the export of tens of thousands of tons of Irish food daily.

With two younger brothers to feed, Molly O’Brien took her father’s place on the road gang, building a road that runs from her tiny village to the river and no farther. Yet sixteen hours of labor a day would not garner enough wages to buy food for her family.

She was beyond despair. Beyond prayer. And so far beyond the tenets of her childhood, she’d decided to offer her body to the first man with the price of a loaf of bread. At that moment, a voice behind her spoke…

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

56183952