Redemption Falls Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Irish author O'Connor (Star of the Sea) delivers a highly stylized post–Civil War period pastiche centered on Redemption Falls, a tumultuous frontier town in the Mountain Territory (presumably in present day Utah or Montana). Told through the posters, correspondence, poems/songs, newspaper articles and interview transcripts collected in the early 20th century by a university professor (and nephew of one of the book's prominent characters), the narrative follows acting governor James Con O'Keeffe as he feuds with his ravishing wife, Lucia-Cruz McLelland, about the mute 12-year-old drummer boy Con takes in and wants to adopt. The boy, Jeddo Mooney, is in a bad way and unaware that his tenacious older sister, Eliza Duane Mooney, is hiking from war-ravaged Louisiana to find him. (Her journey is its own mini-epic.) Con's past as an English criminal who barely escaped the noose and his behavior as an American politician demonstrate his noble but flawed character, while a chorus of minor voices add texture to a narrative already rich with a medley of languages, dialects and clashing cultural mores. The novel is complex, ambitious and at times difficult (many characters are uneducated, and their journals and letters prove to be occasionally impenetrable). O'Connor succeeds as a ventriloquist who brings to life a wide cross-section of Americana. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* In this vibrant literary collage, O'Connor illuminates a slice of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The stories of Eliza Mooney and her younger brother, Jeremiah, are intertwined in this enthralling saga with those of General James O'Keefe and his wealthy wife, Lucia, through letters, personal accounts, transcripts, newspaper articles, and miscellany. As the bloody war ends, Elizaworldly wise beyond her teenage yearssets out on foot from Baton Rouge to find her only remaining kin, a boy who emerges from battle to become the surrogate son of the general, whose failure on the Union battlefield earns him the job of acting governor of an untamed mountain territory. The storiesof O'Keeffe's disreputable past, Lucia's temptation during her husband's absence, Eliza's torturous journey, and the horrors of war witnessed by Jeremiahare vivid and tumultuous, coursing to a bloody climax. Although Irish immigrant participation in the Civil War is a central theme, O'Connor also shows the rich diversity of a country torn by civil conflict. Leber, Michele --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
REDEMPTION FALLS is a kaleidoscope of bright and dark pieces that forms a stunning tale. The surprising narrator has assembled memories, letters, transcripts, interviews, old fliers and newspaper clippings to tell the story of General and Mrs. O'Keeffe and a drummer boy who captured their attention. A cacophony of characters screams from the pages, their voices all vying for attention.
Most notable is James (Con) O'Keeffe, who might as well have gained that nickname from his status as a prisoner, self-released (without permission) and thereafter quickly took himself off to America. Sharing center stage with him is his wife, Lucia-Cruz Rodriguez and Ortega McLelland-O'Keeffe, a woman of great beauty, means and talent. She provides strength and support --- often unearned --- to her ungrateful husband. If only she could make him happy.
After service in the army, during which time Con O'Keeffe made a name for himself (although opinions vary widely as to whether good or bad), he wins the very dubious honor of an appointment by President Lincoln as Governor of his new home state. He has taken up residence in Redemption Falls, in the Mountain Territory, an imaginary town served by roads and rails that sometimes become too dangerous to travel. There are some rough people hanging about in the Mountain Territory, and some hard times coming.
Lucia, reunited with her husband after the war, turns to writing poetry as an outlet for her unfulfilled emotions. The man she fell in love with has changed. The General --- or is it Governor now? --- often turns surly, bordering on abusive. The couple's marriage, which started its decline from nearly the first day of their matrimony, continues on a downward slope. Lucia is at a loss to understand why. When not brooding about his slowly revealed past, O'Keeffe dives deeper into the bottle, pushed there by that selfsame past.
"How wonderful that would be: to remember nothing. To be blank, and the road still before you. What would he do differently? Nearly everything, perhaps."
The Governor's drinking has become something of a legend. Local citizens know not to bother him when he is in his cups, for his moodiness is not reserved for his wife alone. "Even back in those days there were whisperings about the drinking --- was his stallion shot from under him as he led the zouaves at Fredericksburg, or was its rider the worse for liquor, as some claimed? They say his temper was vicious, drunk or sober..."
But it may not be the drink that is O'Keeffe's undoing. It may be the child.
"Twas never proven it was the child done all them things. He got the blame for every wrong was ever done in that bugtusslin dump."
For some reason, Con O'Keeffe wants to parent the boy. Keeping O'Keeffe --- and everyone else --- at arm's length, Young Jeddo Mooney remains mute, having seen atrocities that no 12-year-old should have to witness. The war took his family away; he's alone in the world now. At least, that's what he believes.
Irish author Joseph O'Connor writes with a mournful pen. Sadness and misery share the same sentence with a quiet wit. The beauty lies in the creativity, for the mental pictures conjured up are of exceptional horror.
Don't expect pretty prose here. REDEMPTION FALLS is a book of lyrical, ugly and brilliant language. O'Connor's vividly rendered images assault the senses, dredging up horrible pictures of the realities of war. It is not the story so much that's remarkable as the telling of it. While some parts are difficult to get through, the tenacious reader will be richly rewarded. It might bear a second read, maybe even a third.
--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers
O'Connor's story provides the reader a vicarious experience of living the frustration and ugliness of when America was at war with itself, and in particular, the desperate times immediately afterward. The book is definitely a cut above with its profuse incorporation of period illustrations, song lyrics, photography, poetry, letters, and language - that may at times seem heavy on the ear - so descriptive it might have been penned by one who lived during those wasted days.
The reader is also rewarded with a surprise twist at the end of its telling - enough to have brought shivers to the spine of this reader - perhaps not unlike those that coursed the body of Eliza Mooney as she set out on foot to walk her long dusty road to begin the telling.
Mildly akin to Charles Frazier's melancholy "Cold Mountain," O'Connor's story unfolds in post-Civil War America. Former Irish rebel Cornelius O'Keeffe serves as titular governor of an unnamed western territory, although readers might assume the story is set in Montana. For O'Keeffe's character bears such striking resemblance to the first real-life governor of the Territory of Montana, Thomas Francis Meagher, that it's unlikely the similarity is coincidental. Following commutation of death sentences for perfidy against the noble Crown in Ireland, both Irishmen wind up as prisoners in Van Diemen's Land (Australia, Tasmania)--a life sentence they quickly escape via boat. Subsequent events find both our fictional protagonist and real-life Meagher in New York where they marry into society's crust. Both men serve with checkerboard distinction for the Federals during the Civil War. After the war and brief lecture careers, they head for the frontier to pursue roughshod careers that thrive there. Fueled by indomitable courage and the bottle, territorial governorships and decline await the once vainglorious O'Keeffe and Meagher.
Our fictional O'Keeffe and his fiery wife Lucia-Cruz reside in Redemption Falls where himself is routinely mocked and despised by its citizens, many of whom served in the Confederacy. Unkempt, sullen, often drunk, the governor plants one foot in the past where the ghosts of soldiers he sent to their deaths haunt him. In the present he's as unforgiving of himself as he is towards others. Con O'Keeffe boasts no friends save for a couple of abrasive deputies.
Following a tip, Con O'Keeffe happens on a grisly murder scene in the backcountry and discovers a filthy young Irish urchin lurking about. Defiant and mute, the pre-teen Jeremiah `Jeddo' Mooney faces O'Keeffe displaying a flash of the same pugnacious spirit that the governor himself boasts. Unable to find Jeddo's people, O'Keeffe hauls him off to live at his cabin at Redemption Falls.
Hewn from sawn timber, the unfinished cabin is not a happy place. The missus and her freed-slave cook, Elizabeth Longstreet, seem none to keen on housing a mute waif with behavior issues. Jeddo rapidly drives a nail into the marital coffin of a childless couple who, to remain so, sleep in separate bedrooms. (`Tis a Catholic thing.)
Which brings readers to Eliza Duane Mooney. Late of Louisiana and not-yet seventeen years old, she's walking fifteen hundred miles to the frontier in search of a brother she carries with her only as a worn daguerreotype. "Have you seen this boy?" she inquires. She hears rumor. "You've seen him where?" Eyeing the sad parade of broken Confederate soldiers trudging shoe-less back to the South where homes and farms once stood, road agents take advantage of her as Eliza plods on.
Back at the O'Keeffe cabin the story takes a twist as we learn Lucia-Cruz keeps a Civil War skeleton in the closet. Meanwhile, Con O'Keeffe casts a blind-eye toward young Jeddo's disruptive shenanigans. Townspeople accuse Jeddo Mooney of skullduggery as the O'Keefe's marriage continues a downward slide.
Searching for a character readers can hang onto, we're reminded that after war's physical fighting ends the battle goes on interminably for the casualties of war--one message drawn from "Redemption Falls." O'Connor's hard-edged text further recalls that veterans and sympathizers of both the Federal and Confederate armies flocked to the frontier where blood flowed as the Civil War's spirit lived on for many.
Do any of O'Connor's characters find redemption? The book's title implies so. Yet those who read authors like Joseph O'Connor or Cormac McCarthy know that the hero doesn't emerge unscathed--or at all. Unearthing the answer in this case is worth the ride it takes to get there.
Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) says "Redemption Falls" took his breath away. What can one add to that?
Reading it was a hard slog and I wasn't too enamoured with his poetry, songs and posters scattered throughout the novel but it was insightful and I plowed on.
The style of this novel made it difficult to keep up with the story as there are so many characters and it was hard to see how they connected.It wasn't until the very end of the book that it came together for me and I was satisified that I had persevered but I know many who started the book and never finished it.
The plot is good and the idea for the novel is brilliant but for me it didn't match the brilliance of his former novel. However, it was worth the read and I am glad I finished it.
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