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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review - The Wild Irish by Robin Maxwell


The story involves two very strong women - on the one side the powerful Elizabeth I and on the other the Mother of the Irish Rebellion - an indomitable Grace O'Malley, a woman in men's clothing, fearless, a captain of a pirate army and a force to be reckoned with. In 1593 the two women met - a historical meeting and the story evolves from there.
The brutality of the Irish towards their own men is horrible, let alone the treatment of the Irish by the conquering English. This was unbelievable and though the story is partial towards the Irish this part of it should not be forgotton.
Within the context of this battle is the thread of Elizabeth I's love affair with Robert Devereaux the Earl of Essex. This is Elizabeth's last affair of the heart and one in which she at turns loves him and at the same time hates him.
The Wild Irish has many smaller stories within the framework of the large one - the political maneuvres which were prominent during Elizabeth's time and which proved to be the foundation for the strength of the Crown is seen in this story. Also the fact that this period was the most brutal in Irish history - the devastation of land, people and cattle is unimaginable. Elizabeth is also seen as a person not just the Queen in this story - a woman who longed for marriage and children and was deprived of both, and Grace O'Malley who longed for peace and stability for her country and who loved her people deeply and cared for them unlike the other feudal lords of Ireland who were only in it for their personal gain.
A book of 400 pages this is one which cannot and should not be read quickly. One cannot absorb the many stories within the framework of the main if you read it quickly. For those who like historical fiction this is a good one as it gives us another aspect of Elizabeth I, one which has not got much exposure.

2 comments:

Blodeuedd said...

I would read it just cos I love that painting on the cover :) And Grace sure sounds interesting

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I love this type of historical reading; I wish that we were taught more in school about these types of stories and struggles; maybe we wouldn't keep repeating the same mistakes. Thanks for the review!