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EDWARD J. GILSON Jr.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis is an excellent story set against the background of World War 1 ...
Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2017
This is an excellent story set against the background of World War 1 that deals with one of the more disgraceful episodes in Irish history. Over 200,000 Irish Catholics served in the British Army in World War 1 and the Republic of Ireland has only recently and grudgingly acknowledged their service. This is of special interest to me as both my grandfather and a great uncle served. My grandfather took a bullet in the knee at Gallipoli and his brother was killed at Passchendale. This is the only book I have ever read which understood why they served. Some sought adventure, most were young and naive, many could not find work. Of course after the war they were branded as rogues and most kept their service to themselves. My grandfather emigrated to America and left Ireland for good. I've seen his "village" and I thank God everyday he did. By that time, of course, all of their detractors were claiming to be IRA men and deeply involved in the rebellion. This is a narrative we have all heard ad nauseam for 100 years. This book presents a different side, a story of ordinary people caught up in a horror not of their own making. I truly enjoyed this and it is a story that was long overdue.
The story is told chapter by chapter by individuals involved. It takes a little while to piece together as each person adds his or her part, but it will happen and you will see how the contribution of each character in the novel comes together to add up to a great novel. I liked the book. Even if I had not liked the book the ability of the author to give us insights to the inner feelings of the various characters makes it worth reading. The descriptions of the horrors of war, in this case World War I, make you see all wars as you probably never have considered them before unless you have been personally and directly involved. It is a novel, fiction, but those descriptive pages are real enough and make you feel as though you are there in the middle of the horrors on the battlefield or back at home hoping for the survival of those who are away fighting in the trenches. There were times in reading this book that I could not put it down and then, when I did, I had to pause a while just to consider what I had read. This book isn't one where everyone lives happily ever after. It is the real real lives of people in Ireland during WWI. It is well worth reading for the story it tells and for the ability of the author to tell that story.
5.0 out of 5 starsTransported 100 years back for a fascinating tale
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2015
I must admit that I’m a fickle reader. I usually start reading three or four books at a time, winnowing them down until I’m immersed in the one that has captured my attention to the exclusion of the others. The Canal Bridge is one of those books. The author is the most talented lyrical writer I’ve read in a long while to awful, beautiful and touching effect. From the strong-willed Kitty Hatchel to her love, the enigmatic Matthias Wrenn, the characters were revealed in extraordinary depth. From halcyon childhood days in Ballyrannel, Ireland to the killing fields of Europe in World War I and beyond, the author effectively transports you to time and place. The chapters are arranged by character; some with a single chapter, others with many. Each character tells the story from his or her viewpoint, knowledge and understanding, making a unified whole that flows gracefully and perhaps more fully than it would from a single point of view. I’m looking forward to reading other work by Tom Phelan.
5.0 out of 5 starsThis book was beautifully written and historically accurate.
Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2020
This story of childhood friends growing up together and the effects of the first world war on their relationships and lives was gripping and unforgettable. It is truly a love story, and also a very human story of war and loss. As difficult and painful as parts of this were, the book was honest and very real to me. A piece of history came into clear focus for me, and I will never forget this. Also I felt that the book delivered a beautiful message about redemption and healing. I would highly recommend it, but it is not for the faint of heart.
4.0 out of 5 starsA novel about love and loss of loved ones.
Reviewed in the United States on May 28, 2015
This is a story of children growing up in pre World War Ireland. Two young Irish boys join the English army for adventure. They are despised by some fellow town people for having anything to do with the English. Their adventure lands them in the trenches of Europe and the slaughter of the war is vividly described. Those who return from Europe fight another war of adjusting to life in Ireland and trying to make sense of their sacrifices. Some find love after the war and they also find the hatred that has plagued Ireland for many years. This is a riveting book.
4.0 out of 5 starsVery interesting time and place in history. Story is well written a holds you to the end
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2015
Story is placed in Ireland around WW1. This gives a view of the Irish/English controversy with WW1 as a back drop. In keeping with most good stories there is a love story to carry the historical novel. I founfd it all very interesting and the characters and their story take you through a very difficult time in history of the Irish perspective which I would have never considered as an American. Well done and interesting.
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2018
Phelan's creative narrative style affords life to many voices that ring true and powerful, echoing the beauty of a simpler Ireland and the horror of an often forgotten war. The canal was life in an Ireland just beyond memory, and the trenches death. The telling of the former was hard to put down and the latter sometimes hard to stomach. Sweet and awful.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 25, 2016
This is the second book I have read by Tom Phelan, the first was The Lies The Mushroom Pickers Told, which made me laugh and cry in equal measure, this book however made me cry. Everyone should read this book to learn about the horrors of war.