Can we ever remake the past that made us?
When Jo Devereux returns to Ireland after an absence of 20 years, the last person she expects to meet at her mother's funeral is Rory O'Donovan. The bitter conflict between her family and his, full of secrets and silences, was the one constant of Jo's childhood.
Now she's back in village where they both grew up, he's urging her to stay and, to her own surprise, she's tempted. Because of him? Because her life in San Francisco is such a disaster since her friend Richard died? Or because she always swore she'd write a book about it all.
So Jo settles into a shed near the beach and embarks on a quest, uncovering astonishing truths about her mother and grandmother and women's role in the conflict known as “The War of The Brothers”, the Irish Civil War of 1922. And also about a killing with consequences that have ricocheted through four generations.
Now Rory, mired in an unhappy marriage, is urging her to rebel again but reading her family history has made Jo cautious.
Will her exhumation of the past provide the answers she so desperately needs?
AFTER THE RISING was Orna Ross's debut novel. An instant bestseller and universally acclaimed, it has now been reissued by the author.
The writer is tackling a central theme – and one that’s been sleeping quietly during the almost-century since the Irish State’s foundation: the ideals and ideas of that time and how they affect the very different Ireland of today. The story-within-a-story – desire, hatred, love and a killing in the Civil War – is loosely based on a Wexford murder of the time and ... is a gripping story. The writer has taken on a tough job – interweaving past and present and making them strike fire off each other… [and] has made brilliant use of original sources, including local historians in Wexford, adding the icing on the cake.
This debut novel from Orna Ross [is] the sort of massive book you could happily curl up with for the entire winter, an impressive canvas interweaving a contemporary story of love, emigration and loss with the complex world of civil war politics, emerging women’s rights and buried secrets. It explores the influence of our families on who we later become, in literary, lyrical language, while still being a captivating read.
One is immersed in this epic story immediately and effortlessly… The main characters are so well-drawn that you feel you have heard about them in your own life. The novel’s strength is that it puts culpable, fragile flesh and blood - lots of blood - on a defining moment in Irish history… Of particular delight are the many unexpected twists and turns. When you think you've figured out the secrets, you may have got it all wrong. Orna Ross has written a highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read.