Torn Asunder by Renny deGroot

Emmet Ryan is an inspiring journalist in the fight for a free and united Ireland. He never thought his words may bring death to those he loves most.

Elkin Hardcoves’ Review:4.5-Stars

The complexities and tragedy of 20th century Irish history are skillfully conveyed by Renny deGroot in this readable and intelligent historical fiction. Beginning in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising we follow the tortuous and bloody path to the creation of the Irish Free State by following the equally tortuous and conflicted life of journalist Emmet Ryan. All the major events are here: the rising itself; the subsequent suppression; the Croke Park massacre of 1920; and The Irish Civil War of 1922–23, where former colleagues found themselves on opposing sides leading to a lifetime of bitterness.

The book concludes in 1943 with Emmet ‘s daughter in Belfast, continuing without her family’s knowledge a cause that had by then become disowned by many of its former adherents. The writing gives an indication of time and place and some of the main issues involved in a far from straight forward story. It shows above all else the devastating effect conflict plays in the life of ordinary people. Whether you have a good understanding of the period, or indeed none, then this book will equally appeal and is recommended if you have a liking of historical fiction.

I give the work a 4.5 out of 5.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

Beginning with the Easter Rebellion of 1916, this novel hits the ground running with a cast of characters, each with their own story to tell. First and foremost is Emmet Ryan, an aspiring journalist from an impoverished Irish family who gets caught up in the fight for Irish liberation from English rule when his father and older brothers join the fight.

From there the story chronicles real events and characters all who are outlined at the beginning of the novel for ease of keeping the large cast and issues in perspective. For historical readers who like to learn facts while immersing in a story, this novel offers that and more.

While at times the historical narrative and issues surrounding this event can be overwhelming, the focus on one family and particularly, Emmet, made this story more personal and brings the past to life. There are many places, though, where the writing is bogged down with excessive verbiage and could use tightening and editing. I found I could skim to avoid too much extraneous detail and just get on with the story.

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