When famine strikes in 1846, Clare Hanley leaves Ireland for the promise of America. But the journey isn't what scares her the most, it's the fact that her older sister and uncle emigrated five years earlier---and vanished! Arriving in New York, can she overcome her fears and a terrible secret that could destroy her family?
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It is the rare book that stuns me with its opening line. One sentence in, and I know this book would be a treat.
"Most days blended into the grayness of Liam Hanley's life, but this particular one haunted, a brooding prophetess tormenting the potato farmer with visions of his precious dream succumbing to the Irish downpour of misfortune, washing out his aspirations in familiar brown rivulets of defeat."
Those words from author Michael Reynolds set the tone for the rest of the story: one of hope, disappointment, desperation and survival. And the beauty of the opening line is no fluke. Flight of the Earls is filled with poetic prose that carries the reader along like a gently flowing river. Reynolds conveys scenes with such clarity I could see the farm in Ireland, the belly of the ship, the overwhelming poverty in New York.
As the blight that would become known as the Great Famine in Ireland reaches their small farm, Clare Hanley, her brother Seamus and neighbor Pierce are sent away to America to seek a better life for them and the families they leave behind. They soon learn that their prospects have been exaggerated and they join the ranks of the other Irish immigrants in the Five Points area of New York. Their story is one of survival, adventure, friendship and love.
I'm in awe of debut novels that are this good. I'll be eager to read the next two stories in the series. The sequel, In Golden Splendor, is available now. The third is yet to come.
If you're a fan of Irish history, I think you'll like this one.
My interest in this book is: the Irish story. I love Riverdance, the movie Far & Away, and have studied the Irish Mafia for many years. This book fit right in!
Ideas expressed/message/plot: This book puts you in the midst of what it would be like to be Irish and to travel to America in 1846-47; the Five Points, NY; TRUE love; overcoming.
Favorite characters, quotes/lines: "Seamus realized Ireland was in every town."
When I finished this book I felt: Thick with thoughts of God. Truly, this book is not the typical Historical Fiction that I usually read, thus it took me a while to settle in. And settle in I did! I read a lot of Romantic Historical fictions (think Chick-Flick style) and this was much more a Drama/Saga. (Saga: a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents ). The first half of the book was like looking at someone's snapshots of historical records and pictures. The first half set the stage for the story that really took over about 1/2 way through. However, the setting of the stage is a beautiful weaving of tapestry that makes this book what it is. I will have images of this story floating through my mind for years to come.
Well done Michael! I'm in love with your story and can't wait for the next!!! I really loved Seamus' story~could feel his pain and understand why he behaved as he did. I felt for him. Can't wait for July to read [[ASIN:1433678209 In Golden Splendor: An Heirs of Ireland Novel]]
Overall: It depends what you're looking for in a historical fiction. If you are looking for a cute, fun (chick-flick) story that simply takes place in a historical period or setting...this is not that (think Deeanne Gist, Kaye Dacus, Jamie Carie, Colleen Coble). If you want something that gets your hands dirty with the history, then this is your book! I felt the hardship, felt the struggle, both internal and external, because Michael placed before me situations that caused me to wonder what I myself would do or feel. I really think that those of us who love chick-flicks should give this one a read because, though different, it is an impacting story; a great book.
Full Fledged 5 Stars! This is a book I would recommend to anyone teen+, especially those who love history.
I would highly recommend this be required reading for anyone teaching/learning about this era!
Flight of the Earls starts in 1846 when the potato famine hits in Ireland. Brother and sister, Seamus and Clare, leave their Irish homeland for a better life in the United States of America. Clare settles in New York City where she faces many obstacles, tragedy, secrets, and love. Is this new home where she finds happiness that she was looking for when she left her precious Ireland? Michael K Reynolds does a fabulous job with this debut and first installment of the Song of the Shenandoah series. His vivid descriptions of how hard it was for the Irish during the famine and trying to make America their new home. Their story was emotional, intriguing, captivating, and stunning all in one. I couldn't ask for a better historical fiction that tells the story of my Irish ancestors. I loved the main character, Clare. She was such a strong woman, who had to overcome so much. She's someone you could really admire! I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of this series. I highly recommend this stunning novel! I promise you will NOT be disappointed. 5 stars.
Based on Irish immigration in the 1840s, Flight of the Earls by Michael K. Reynolds is the first book in the Heirs of Ireland series. From the Great Potato Famine in Roscommon, Ireland, to the poverty and corruption of Five Points NYC, to the war with Mexico in Veracruz, this novel captures the indelible spirit and hope of the Irish people. Flight of the Earls is a rare gem in the Christian fiction field.
It's obvious that Michael is a talented author who writes from the heart in this saga that follows two members of the Hanley family as they leave their beloved homeland of Roscommon, Ireland due to dire economic conditions, and sail to what would surely be a land of opportunity that would save their family back home. Michael has a wonderful ability when it comes to creating complex characters that the reader cares about and conveying a sense of place through his elegant prose filled with vivid descriptions.
I have always loved all things Irish, so I enjoyed Michael's description of the Irish people - the spirit that shone above their suffering and devastation. One particular scene on the boat stands out where, in spite of the indescribable conditions in steerage . . . "A man with a fiddle began to play tunes of Ireland, tunes of joy and the unshakable resolution of its people. They sang and some danced, lifting their skirts, locking arms, and spinning as the crew trimmed the sails and looked down from above."
Clare Hanley is a strong character who takes on burdensome responsibilities, yet she yearns for the inner contentment and peace that she always saw in her Grandma Ella. Clare's brother, Seamus, seems to easily find misfortune, often from his own doing. "My father always said I was worthless. I spent my life proving him right."
New York's Five Points area played such a huge part in this narrative that I felt it became a main character. Believing they would find in America a land of great wealth and opportunity, these Irish immigrants discovered themselves in an area that was quite the opposite, yet hope was never extinguished. One of Clare's friends, a prizefighter named John Barden, says: "I love the Five Points. The newspapers don't speak kindly of her. They see the beggars, the poor, the beaten, the homeless, the drunks, thieves, and whores. But I see a place full of good people, short on blessings, but full of hope and courage. I see a place groaning for its chance to prosper. Only to be kicked down when it tries to rise to its feet. Sounds like the Irish, don't it?"
I loved the way hope is shown through another character, Andrew, who works for his father's newspaper, the New York Daily. Passionate about wanting to do more than just write about poverty, Andrew pursues his dream of a ministry house that would feed, lodge, and teach skills to those in need . . . "A sanctuary from the cruelties of this life. No one would be turned away, and each would know their comfort would be provided by the grace of God."
Flight of the Earls is a historical novel filled with realism and emotion, a people of resilience and hope, and superb storytelling. I highly recommend this novel to all readers.
The second book in this series, In Golden Splendor, has recently been released. It continues the story of Seamus.
This book was provided by B&H Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Flight of the Earls is a most enlightening and entertaining novel. The Characters in this tale of immigration come to life as the reader is lead through the hardships and triumphs of coming to America. It was hard to put down as I waited to find out what was coming next. I don't read a lot if this type of novel, but I was completely enthralled by this one. Nice job Michael K!
Wow! I finished Flight of the Earls last week, and I can't stop thinking about the characters I met. Fortunately, it's the first book in a series. I so enjoyed the fast pace of this story, and I'm looking forward to reading the entire Heirs of Ireland series. It feels like one of those epic series--like Winds of War or North and South. You just want to keep reading.
From the Irish potato famine to the seedy streets of New York, Michael K. Reynolds takes the reader on a moving adventure. The writing sings, the story thrills, the characters are unapologetically realistic, and the message of hope and trust shines even in the grit. A novel not to be missed!
Michael K. Reynolds in his new book, "Flight of the Earls" Book One in the Heirs of Ireland series published by B&H Publishing Group takes us into the life of Clare Hanley .
From the back cover: "She marveled at the grandeur of Manhattan rising before her...the tiny moving dots on the shoreline became people alive with the bursting commerce of an upstart nation."
It's 1846 in Ireland. When her family's small farm is struck by famine, Clare Hanley and her younger brother, Seamus, set out across the ocean to the Promised Land of America.
Five years prior, Clare's older sister Margaret and her Uncle Tomas emigrated in similar fashion and were not to be heard from again. But Clare must face her fears as she lands in the coming-of-age city of New York. There she discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and a terrible secret which threatens to destroy her family and all she believes.
Flight of the Earls is the first book in a historical novel trilogy based on Irish immigration in the 1840s
Michael K. Reynolds writes vividly! When he presents a scene to you he paints a picture that is rich in detail and color. Instead of standing in an art gallery studying it we have all the pages of this book to admire each and every brush stroke. "Flight of the Earls" is all about family. An Irish family. A family that faces tragedy in the form of The Potato Famine to having to come to America to seek a new life. "Flight of the Earls" is first class adventure as Clare is having to learn to live in a completely new environment. But she is not alone, with her is her family and they will adapt. This is the first book in a new series that is filled with great characters that we come to love and root for. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series which is due this coming July. I'll see you again then.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from B&H Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I'm not up on my Irish history, even though I'm of Irish descent from a couple different ancestors. The incidents in this book revealed a part of Irish history I'd heard about, but only in passing. The life and trials of Clare Hanley are well-described and each chapter drew me further into her life.
If you enjoy historical fiction, this book certainly lives up to that expectation. I prefer the romantic side of historical fiction, and "Flight of the Earls" does have some romance, but not enough to categorize it in the romance genre. However, it kept me engaged and willing to spend my time reading it.
***I received this book from the author/publisher for the purpose of review. The above is my honest opinion.***
Historically accurate, believable, relatable characters, suspense, makes Flight of the Earls a truly remarkable novel! I completed the tale within two days, completely engrossed, I was left breathless and bittersweet not wanting the novel to ever end! Michael Reynolds uses his keen sense of storytelling facts into an easy to read masterpiece!
When the fatal famine of 1846 strikes the blessed country of Ireland, father Liam Hanley makes his young daughter Clare, her brother Seamus, and childhood friend Pierce Brady, take a long trip to New York for work and resources. Clare is heartbroken to leave her sister Caite, and two younger brothers, Ronan and Davin. Fearful for her life with memories of her older sister Maggie and her Uncle Tomas disappearance just a few years ago. Yet, time is critical, and her family are desperate. On the voyage, Clare struggles in crowded living space, hunger and fever, and Seamus means well but always get into trouble. They survive by the grace of God, and find out that their Uncle Tomas is still living but goes under the alias of Patrick Feagles, a now shady businessman, with dirty secrets, and terror for Claire and her family. John Barden, a fighter and friend of her Uncle has Clare smitten, yet she continues to be drawn to the part time newspaper journalist and missionary, Andrew Royce. But who can she trust? Only the soothing words of Clare's Grandma Ella continue to echo in her mind to remember God's hope, and strength along the journey. So many secrets unfold, that will tug at your heart and never let go.
**I received this book for free from B&H Publishing in exchange for my honest, unbiased, non-profit opinion.**
In his first novel in the Heirs of Ireland saga, Michael K. Reynolds presents an astounding detail of Irish immigrants in America and their unwavering determination in the midst of famine and shattered dreams. Claire, her brother Seamus, and family-friend, Pierce embark upon a journey to the land of plenty with hopes of relieving the hardships faced by family back home in Ireland only to be met with equal hardships in the new world, as well as the discovery of heart-wrenching family secrets. Reynolds has written a mesmerizing tale filled with remarkable characters and amazing historical details. He's certainly an author who has done his research and extremely well at that. I was immediately transported back in time with his vivid imagery and attention to detail. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and the raw emotions of the characters were brought to life and kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. Flight of the Earls is a must for any fan of historical fiction and one that I highly recommend. I easily give this novel a FIVE! I'm eagerly awaiting the second installment of this series, In Golden Splendor, currently scheduled to be released this summer on July 15th, 2013.
I was pleasantly surprised with Flight of the Earls. I expected a deeply historical tale, but instead discovered a remarkable immigrant tale full of memorable characters and surprising twists.
I didn’t feel a strong background development to Clare’s romance, but that could be a male-authorship thing. Although, I guess a man enduring a deep, debilitating fear (several times) for a woman shows love, if not romance! ;-)
I enjoyed learning about the San Patricios (Mexico’s Fighting Irish) - something I’d never known about. Although I didn’t care for the abrupt subject change to war during the book, it kept Seamus’ character alive for book 2 in this new trilogy.
Reynolds is a great storyteller with an easy-to-read style. I enjoyed and recommend Flight of the Earls and am looking forward to the release of book 2 this summer, In Golden Splendor.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all thoughts are 100% mine. acookingbookworm DOT com*
The rough life during Ireland's potato famine is the setting of this historical novel. The plot moves at a steady pace, and although at times dreary, the reader has hope. A good bit of both Ireland's and American's history are woven into the story line.
Characters are believable. Clare Hanley, a responsible, determined young lady manages to avoid terrible happenings--some, while the reader holds his breath. It's interesting to watch Clare weave in and out of life's struggles. Her father insists that Clare take her troublesome brother, Seamus, with her to America and Seamus stumbles toward trouble. Clare has her hands full.
I look forward to the second in this series, which will be about Seamus.
Discussion questions are included.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books for my copy.
Michael Reynolds has written a descriptive, breathtaking novel that will take you back to the 1800s to a story that could very well be one from my own Irish heritage. Michaels characters and story will draw you in with a heightened anticipation that even vetran authors have difficulty intergrating in their novels. Flight for the Earls will entice you, hold your emotions hostage, then release them with the unexpected, leaving you both speachless and full of joy. Michael Reynolds writes with the talent of an "old soul". I highly recommend the book; 5 Starts, 2 Thumbs Up, and A MUST READ.
I have to admit something, I have never read a "historical fiction" book. I knew this book was coming out and being the Irish girl that I am, I decided to give it a shot. I was taken right away to a time and place of great hardship and determination that made me want to keep reading, and reading, and reading! The prologue sets you up with a vivid description of the Irish life in the mid 1800's. You meet the family and the very different roles that each will play as the story unfolds. The author wastes no time in presenting the hard life families faced during the time of the potato famine. As a reader, I could almost smell "the rot" as it spread from farm to farm. The family dynamics of the Hanley's are very descriptive. I knew the roles of the characters within in first few pages of the book. The stage was set and the story begins to unfold. The only hope, it seemed, was a trip to America. The Irish were doing all they could to get to "the land of the free" where work was abundant. But,things were not as they seemed when the brother, the oldest sister, and his best friend, land in America after a trip across the ocean threatened to take their lives. I could not put this book down. The author's ability to take me to these vivid places in the book was amazing! I was so wrapped up in the words written that I started reading it with an Irish accent! I was so impressed with the imagery! It wasn't hard at all to imagine the sights and the smells of the time. It honestly has something for everyone! Loved, loved, loved this book!
The lead character is faced with stepping outside of her comfort zone, a life that she has always known, to travel across the ocean to America in order to save her family's failing potato farm. She was completely afraid of this new season in her life but she knew that it was where God was leading her. Outside of her comfort zone was a whole new world of freedom and adventure. It wasn't always pretty, there were some hard stuff she had to go through to get to the good stuff. She discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and eventually finds God's purpose for her life. God used everything that she had gone through to get her right where He wanted her - and where her ultimate happiness in her life was. All she had to do was to listen. This book is so good and a great way to start your new year - inspiring new ideas and hope for where God has you now and where He is leading you. This book was inspiring and even though I finished it a few days ago, I'm still thinking about it and has inspired me to take more chances this next year and to be stretched more! Love it!
Get ready to be swept away in this action-packed, emotional tale of one woman's journey to survive and help her family during the potato famine in Ireland.
Clare Hanley, her brother Seamus, and family friend Pierce must journey to America in order to find work and keep their Irish families from starving. The journey tests the three's morals, their loyalties, and their very lives. New York does not live up to its reputation, and the struggles they face tear them apart. But through it all, Clare draws strength from the memory of her siblings back in Ireland and ultimately finds love and a strong faith in God.
I loved this book so much that I devoured it in less than 24 hours! Michael K. Reynolds shows a rare gift of balancing historical details, emotional reactions, a complicated family history, and a fast-paced plot to create characters I couldn't stop rooting for. Clare, especially, as the protagonist melted my heart. I rooted for her every step of the way. My heart hurt at the many injustices she bore out of love and generosity.
The supporting characters displayed plenty of vices, but they also were multi-dimensional. My fingers are crossed that Seamus will get his own book!
Terrific read! I highly recommend it! I can't wait to read more by this talented author.
*I received an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own. It's amazing--get your hands on a copy!*
When I read a book, I want to be transported. Flight of the Earls, with it's vivid descriptions and thoughtful story lines, puts you ringside for a whirlwind adventure. It was easy to imagine what each character looked like in my head and I could feel their emotions and struggles through out their lives. You really become invested in each of the characters lives and who you want to root for and against. Weaving fiction with history can be tricky, but I really enjoyed how the author presented pieces in time through out the novel.
It has been awhile where I found it hard to put a book down so, thank you for this great book! Looking forward to more!
Flight of the Earls is a definite page-turner. The author's ability to transport the reader into 19th century Ireland and New York through his gifted storytelling is a pure joy. The story line and the characters in this novel will keep you entertained, but the accurate and colorful description of what life was like for people of this time will remain with you always. Can't wait to read the second book in the series!
‘Flight of the Earls’ is a joy to read. Sad and shocking at times, but extremely easy to read and very absorbing. It is set in the 1840′s first in Ireland and later in America. This isn’t the kind of story that you know what is going to happen ahead of time. Michael gives clues throughout the story about the characters, but about the time I thought I knew the general direction the story was headed, it would take an unexpected turn.
Wonderfully written, the characters come alive as the story progresses. Monday night I sat down to read a few paragraphs to get a feel for what it was like and the next thing I knew it was 1:30 a.m., Tuesday morning. Then I sat down later in the morning to check my emails and got started again on the story instead, once again the hours flew by, and just like that the book was completed.
Mr. Reynolds doesn’t have a strong, blatant Christian theme to ‘Flight of the Earls’, but he hasn’t shied away from sharing a subtle Christian witness either.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was mentally transported to times and places that are basically alien to our current lives. A time when God, family, and country were more important than ‘I’. A time of monstrous hardships and sacrifices, yet pure joys and contentment. When life was harsh and extremely unfair, but people didn’t expect someone else to fulfill their every whim.
I recommend this book to one and all.
Purposes of Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion of it in a review on my blog. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”