west coast of Ireland, 1830.
Bitter tears were shed and a ring was thrown.
In an act of sorrow, a woman throws away a poesy ring. Inscribed with the words ‘Love never dies’, the ring lies first in a field then, under an oak tree which grows nearby, before being caught in the hoof a deer which stops to eat acorns. From there the ring begins a journey which sees it eventually at the bottom of the ocean where it is swallowed by a fish and so, almost two centuries after it was thrown, finally finds its way back to human hands. Purchased by young lovers from a gold trader, the ring is finally placed once again on a young woman’s finger.
There is so much to ponder on and love in this book. The fascinating journey of the ring, the idea of love travelling and being passed on, the mystery of the woman who threw the ring, and her story, will leave readers pondering and even discussing for quite some time. The illustrations, with Bob Graham’s special blend of realism and whimsy, will also delight and inspire further examination.
A treasure of a book about a unique treasure.
The Poesy Ring, by Bob Graham
Walker Books, 2018
The wood is an ancient one, a relic of the vast Holocene forest that once covered all of Ireland but which now has almost completely gone. Huge oaks half a millennium old; tangled, many-limbed hawthorns; red-barked horse chestnuts.
“i don’t like it,” the man behind the man with the gun says.
“Just put up with it, my feet are getting wet too,” the man with the gun replies.
“It’s not just that. It’s those bloody trees. I can hardly see any-thing. i don’t like it. It’s spooky,
so it is.”
“Ach, ya great girl ya, pull yourself together.”
It’s 1988 and Belfast is besieged by troubles. So on one is surprised when a drug dealer is murdered, and once the initial interest has passed, no one would be surprised if it was never solved. But Detective Inspector Sean Duffy isn’t one to give up. There is something about this case that means he just can’t let it go – even when he finds his career, his marriage and, finally, his life threatened.
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly is the seventh title featuring Sean Duffy, a stubborn detective who works hard, but also drinks before lunchtime, smokes at every opportunity, and isn’t afraid to break the rules in the quest for right. The setting of the stories – in a Belfast in the midst of ‘the troubles‘ – is both interesting and increases the drama, with physical threat an ever-present reality for a policeman, especially a Catholic one such as Duffy.
Acton packed, with a touch of humour.
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty
Serpent’s Tail, 2017
‘You don’t want to be stopping here, me young colleen,’ he said. ‘In England, the Irish are bottom of the heap – kept poor and treated like eejits ’cause of our Catholic faith. Go someplace where you’re as good as the rest. That’s what I’d do, if I was young like you.’
Life has been tough for Bridget, but now she setting sail for Australia, where she is to start a new life. She isn’t afraid. Nothing could be worse than staying in Ireland and starving to death. Still, she cries for what she is leaving behind – her mother and brothers in the work house and her father and grandmother, both dead. In Australia, too, she finds that though life might be better, her strong spirit might land her in trouble.
Bridget, part of Omnibus Books’ New Australian series is set in and after the time of the Irish potato famine of the mid nineteenth century, and shows both that famine’s effects as well as the resultant scheme which saw poverty stricken Irish shipped to Australia. Although not convicts, Bridget and her fellows travellers have few rights and must adapt to life in a very foreign land.
Suitable for readers in middle primary and older, Bridget is historical fiction with broad appeal. Bridget is a likeable narrator who readers will enjoy getting to know.
Bridget, by J. Maloney
Available from good bookstores and online.