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Lisa Boyle
With Great Sorrow
Lisa Boyle, author
Massachusetts, 1861. The American Civil War has been raging for almost a year when Emmett joins the 28th Massachusetts Infantry with the promise of serving his country under the green flag of the Irish Brigade. But soon he finds himself struggling to reconcile the piles of dead Irishmen with his own motivations for fighting. In Lowell, Rosaleen seizes the opportunity to write for a newspaper funded by Boston's business elite. She needs to convince the Irish of Massachusetts that emancipating the slaves is inevitable and just. When letters from Emmett stop coming, Rosaleen cuts a deal with a powerful businessman that will take her deep into the underbelly of wartime economics in New Orleans. Told from dual perspectives, the third book in The Paddy Series is the story of a family forced to choose between what they thought was right and what they know is irreplaceable.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The third book in the Paddy Series, With Great Sorrow is a moving, character-rich, and well-paced novel. Rosaleen  and Emmett’s perspectives are tightly woven to form a cohesive and highly original tale of how Irish immigrants came to be involved in the Civil War.

Prose: Boyle’s mastery of the nuance of language is on full display in this work. Her Irish characters, even when not speaking with a brogue, use language appropriate for their place in time as recent immigrants. When jigs are incorporated, they flow authentically from the characters’ lived experiences. All of this adds to the sense of immersion within this specific place and time.

Originality: Using the unique lens of one Irish family as a starting point, the complexity of life in this place and time is illustrated in crisp detail.

Character/Execution: Boyle’s Rosaleen is the locus for an extraordinary peek into the complexities of life during the Civil War era. Not only does she treat the main characters with exacting authenticity, but peripheral characters, such as Ronan and Lydia, are fully realized from the start. When revisiting these characters later in the story, the impact of their circumstances hits with greater impact.

Date Submitted: April 04, 2023