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Irish It's Not
on February 2, 2003
I rarely read romance fiction. So much of it is formula fiction. But when I heard about Nora Roberts Irish trilogy ( Jewels of the Sun, Tears of the Moon and Heart of the Sea) I had to take it for a spin.
For the most part the writing is good and entertaining. The action all takes place in present day Ireland and she seems to have a good feel for the setting.
But...(you just KNEW that was coming!)
It's also quite obvious that Ms Roberts is an Irish American who took a "weekend trip" to Ireland. There is much in these novels that is jarring me and the research, especially into Irish history, is sloppy at best.
1. A recurring theme in all three books centers around a love affair gone awry between a Fairy Prince and a mortal woman. Ms. Roberts created the "legend" from whole cloth, although I agree it's themely. Except she places the purported romance only three hundred years in the past. A thousand years, even two thousand years ago, and I could believe it, But three hundred years ago Ireland was under the English Occupation who were busily doing their damnedest to commit genocide and had outlawed all Irish culture and language. The name of her "Fairy Prince" is Carrick. I can swallow that. But his mortal lover is named "Lady Gwen". Ireland never followed feudalism and their were no Irish "Ladys" and Gwen is a WELSH name. This leads me to believe that his mortal lover wasn't even IRISH but English!
2. One of the central locations in all three books is a pub owned by a family of two brothers and a sister, all of who are major characters in the novels. Supposedly the pub was established in 1842 and passed down in the family. This was just THREE YEARS before the start of the Great Famine. Considering that all of Ireland starved during the Famine I can't even imagine a pub surviving through it, especially in as tiny a village as the setting is supposed to be.
3. She makes good use of music throughout the books, printing snatches of song lyrics here and there. Until she mentioned Willie McBride. This is a reference to a song called No Man's Land. It was written by Eric Bogle, an expatriate Scotsman living in Australia. Another jarring note.
4. At one point her "Fairy Prince" says "By Finn!" Although Finn had a strong connection to magic and had the gift of the Sight he wasn't even a demigod, much less a god. He was a mortal man. For a Prince of the Sidhe to swear by him simply doesn't fit.
As I'm only halfway through the second book I'm sure that there will be more to make me blink as I read. But I can't help feeling that if she had just taken a little more care and time the books could have been so much better. The mistakes are so gauche. Ireland has a rich history and culture she could have drawn from without making these kinds of errors. All in all I'm disappointed.