So what and where is Innisfree? Innisfree is a small uninhabited island in Lough Gill, Ireland, featured in the poem Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats, at least, it was uninhabited in this novel. The Angel of Innisfree starts out in Ireland at Creevelea Abbey, Dromahair, Ireland in the year 1848. Dromahair is a small village in County Leitrim, Ireland.
Ireland in 1848 is known at this time for the potato famine, the Young Irelander Rebellion. The rebellion mainly had to do with the British and how they treated the Irish, lower than dirt, they took the lands from the people that had resided there for centuries, turned them out of their homes, burned what they could and left the people to die. The food that the Irish people grew was taken from them and sold to other countries or it went back to Britain.
Brian O'Rourke is one of the sons of Big Paddy O'Rourke, one of these Irish that are told to get off the land or else. Well in Brian's family it was the or else, Brian's father and brothers are killed by the soldiers, the mother left to die and his sister kidnapped. Brian rescues his sister, which he does but his mother dies in the meantime. Brian vows revenge, kills a man and he becomes a wanted man and hides out on Innisfree. He and his sister Mary escape to America, hoping that life will be better there.
Elizabeth Reilly is a privileged woman who lives with her aunt in London but is visiting with her father who is tasked with the duty of having the Irish evicted from their lands, he does not condone the killing of course but he does what he is told. While Elizabeth is visiting she happens to hear beautiful music floating through her window. Elizabeth is a pianist and wants to be a concert performer but her father has other ideas. Well, Brian plays the fiddle and he is playing for the men, women and children who have died as a result of starvation.
After Brian kills a man he is badly wounded and Elizabeth takes care of him on the island of Innisfree and they fall in love. Well, there is no happy ending at this time as Brian and Mary escape Ireland the cruelty that they find there. Elizabeth and Brian pledge that they will find each other no matter what or how long it may take, it actually takes 14 years.
Upon arrival their lives are hard but they make it work and Brian eventually gets involved in working for the Telegraph companies. The Telegraph is in its infancy at this time and Brian becomes very prosperous, but he still pines for Elizabeth. Elizabeth, on the other hand, does eventually go to Paris to study with Chopin until his death.
The Angel of Innisfree is one of those epic novels that takes place over a period of 50 years. It takes the reader through the development of the telegraph, the international underground telegraph lines to Europe, the gold rush, concert halls, the Underground Railway, the Lincoln administration and his assassination and the Civil War. Through all of this Brian and Elizabeth persevere.
Is there a happy ending? Well, you have to decide that. This novel is easy to read, lots of history but not bogged down in it to make it dull. This is a bit different than the other novel I read by Mr.Rooney, The Acheron Perception, but just as good if not better. I am partial to anything Irish of course so this book was perfect for me. I loved it and highly recommend it. Like I said before, this is not a history book and if that is what you are looking for, this isn't it. This is an epic love story that enforces that even in the face of war and other atrocities, love can beat all.
I received a copy of this book for review and was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.