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The Tenants of Time Paperback – Mar 8 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 849 pages
  • Publisher: Time Warner Publishing M/M (March 8 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446353426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446353427
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,091,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Eagerly awaited by readers of The Year of the French, Flanagan's new novel is even more powerful and engrossing than its predecessor. Set during three pivotal decades of Irish history, the narrative focuses on four men who participate in the short-lived Rising of 1867 and the irrevocable effects on their lives of the battle of Clonbrony Wood. Ned Nolan returns from America to his hometown of Kilpeder to lead the uprising, programmed by the Irish Republican Brotherhoodthe Fenianswhose sacred oath is the motivating obsession of Ned's existence. He enlists the aid of three of Kilpeder's young men: schoolmaster Hugh MacMahon, Robert Delaney, a bright, ambitious shopkeeper's assistant, and Vincent Tully, charming wastrel son of the town's leading merchant. In the aftermath of the aborted rebellion, Ned hardens into a merciless terrorist. Bob becomes a solicitor, an MP in the party of Charles Stewart Parnell and the lover of the wife of the Earl of Ardmor, who "owns" Kilpeder and lives in an estate overlooking the town. Except for Hugh, who is one of the narrators of this moving story, tragedy stalks each of the veterans of Clonbrony Wood. Their intertwined life dramas are played out against the tragedy of Ireland's bloody attempts to shake the yoke of British rule. The novel beautifully integrates the lives of its fictional characters with a striking depiction of the historical circumstances that motivated rebellion against the Crown. Flanagan's portrayal of the texture of Irish society illuminates the roots of perennial conflict. He skillfully describes the rise of Charles Parnell and the success of the Land League campaign, Parnell's disgrace and the destruction of all his accomplishments while the "damned bloody empire . . . settled back to watch the Irish tear ourselves to pieces." As in all tragedy, there is irony: of Irish informers betraying their compatriots; of Parnell's sudden fall just as home rule seems certain; of the way Bob Delaney's life mirrors that of his leader's. Written in musical prose and imbued with an elegiac strain, the novel also eulogizes the innocence, hope and idealism of youth, which, because "we are all the tenants of Time," gives way to the disillusionment and bitter accommodations of one's maturer years. A fine fusion of solid historical and sociological insight with a shrewd, sensitive grasp of character, plus a steady sweep of dramatic momentum incorporating an affecting portrait of a doomed love affair, this is a book one does not want to put down. It is a significant literary achievement, as timely as today's headlines about violence in Ireland. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; BOMC featured alternate.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Flanagan's The Year of the French was a popular, award-winning, and masterful account of the Irish uprising of 1798. This novel deals with the years between the failed Fenian uprising of 1867 and the death of Parnell late in 1891. Parnell and the Land League agitation of the 1880s had a revolutionary effect upon Irish history. Flanagan vividly shows how the personal histories of his many characters both created and were changed by the history of their times. The nature and meaning of history is one of the themes of this book, as is the way history is remembered and recorded. Flanagan has the mind of a philosophical historian, but also the talent of a gifted storyteller. A model of historical fiction. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Vivid and memorable Feb. 10 1998
By P. Lozar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I found it a less stunning experience than the author's previous novel, "The Year of the French." Once again, he's chosen a little-known incident in Irish history and written about it vividly, with a cast of memorable characters. He depicts the landscape, the people, and the historical setting with a wealth of detail, and both dialogue and descriptions are beautifully expressed. I think the book isn't as strong as its predecessor for two reasons: while "The Year of the French" had one central character whose rise and downfall had the force of Greek tragedy, this novel is built around a group of characters and doesn't seem as strongly focussed. Again, there are two climaxes -- the abortive rebellion, and its consequences many years later -- so I felt rather let down after the first, and the story seemed to lose its momentum for a while, by contrast with the inexorable progression of events in his first novel. Still, it's not only an extremely good historical novel, but a good NOVEL and well worth reading (even if you're not Irish!).
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Best historical novel of nineteenth century Ireland Oct. 18 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Spanning four decades of tense Irish history after the Famine years, Flanagan's tour de force masterfully weaves the life stories of four boyhood friends from County Cork whose adult lives result in different and conflicting choices regarding their roles in Irish society and politics. Together, they join the Fenian brotherhood in 1865, but the revolution's failure pushes them on divergent paths for fuller meaning in their lives. In exploring these developments, Flanagan expertly combines the characters' life challenges with the dramatice course of Irish history in the late Victorian era, presenting vivid depiction of the Fenian assassins, the agrarian struggles of the Land League, the rise and fall of Parnell, and the inevitable growth of Ireland into the modern era. Yet this striking panorama of Irish history never overshadows the rich and complex dynamic of the relationship between Hugh, Robert, Ned and Edward, whose struggles to find fortune and meaning in their world thrusts them into tragic internecine conflict. This is a novel you will never forget, and I would rank it among the best historical novels ever written.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Second Book of Flanagan's Stunning Trilogy of Irish History Sept. 16 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Tenants of Time", Flanagan's book between "Year of the French" and "End of the Hunt", deals with the Parnell era in Irish politics. But it is much more than that. Three men bound together by an act of failed rebellion in their early years, remain tied to one another and their actions on that day while a young historian tries to understand "a single moment in history" represented by that doomed rebellion.
The characters are large and complex, the ideas even bigger and the setting so evocative that you won't want the book to end.
Great literature that is also a great read. I really can't do the book justice. Read the first fifty pages and I bet you can't stop.
One minor complaint: Delaney's circumstances too closely mirrored Parnell's in the O'Shea debacle.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Entrancing June 10 2002
By Schmerguls - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Though I have not a drop of Irish ancestry I have long been fascinated by nineteenth century Irish history. The Green Flag: The Turbulent History of the Irish National Movement, by Robert Kee, was the best book I read in 1972, and The Parnell Tragedy, by Jules Abels, was the best book I read in 1974 (even tho it is not the best book on Parnell--F.S.L. Lyons' book, Charles Stewart Parnell, which I read 20 May 1979, is equally good and Robert Kee's The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles SAtewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism [which I read May 1, 1996] is better). This novel by Thomas Flanagan is written with a most authentic-seeming Irish touch, and the story takes us through the Fenian and Parnell years with a better story line than The Year of the French, the first volume in the trilogy, had for its period, the rising of 1798. Anyone who likes to absorb history by reading fiction could scarcely do better than read this book as to late nineteenth century Irish history.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
History in microcosm Nov. 8 1999
By Janet Aldrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Tenants" begins on the eve of the Fenian uprising of 1867. We meet four young men and their compatriots as they train to confront the British and the Irish Constabulary and free Ireland -- or so they hope. There is Robert Delaney, shopkeeper and politician to be, Ned Nolan, a returning Irish-American whose hardline sympathies presage the IRS, Vincent Tully, squireen and future brother-in-law of Delaney, and Hugh McMahon, schoolteacher of Kilpeder.

But the uprising is only the beginning of their travels. After serving their time after the failed rebellion, we follow Hugh, Robert, Ned and Vincent through their lives and the history of Ireland in the late 1800s; Parnell and the Land League and the boycotts which nearly succeeded in driving the British out altogether and succeeded in breaking the backs, largely, of the Ascendency. It ends with Parnell's disgrace and downfall, and the deaths of two old friends.

Flanagan's writing has a lovely Irish flavor; it may be this, as much as the story itself, which holds so much pleasure for me.

An earlier reviewer complained that the path of one character's life too closely paralleled the more famous events which occurred in history. But rather than a flaw, I see that as the author's intent, bringing the historical events close and helping you see them from the inside through smaller characters rather than trying to put words in the mouths (not that he didn't do that anyway, to some extent) of the historical characters they represented.

Bob paralleled Parnell, rise, disgrace and fall; Vincent, the Anglo-Irish landowners whose life was disrupted for all time by Parnell's boycotts; Ned, those who found Parnell and his non-violent approach at best wrongheaded and at worst traitorous to Ireland; and Hugh stood outside it all as everyone else did, having some of the picture but not all, seeing it for us.

I bought this in an airport because I wanted something to read. It has become one of my favorite books ever.

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