1911, Long Island, New York
Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes
All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream
Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he’s put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.
Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans.
As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father’s machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?
Honestly, if I’d seen the cover I would never had read this book as there is something about it that I find off-putting.Â However I was offered a pre-release, digital copy to read (with no cover image attached) and I’m glad that I didn’t miss out on this novel.
Irish Meadows was engaging and well written.Â The main characters showed depth and development, though there were some changes in character that happened a bit more abruptly than I would generally expect.Â I appreciated that the secondary characters were deliberately underdeveloped and did not draw the focus from the main plot, while at the same time the threads of impact they added to the story wove a richer tale.Â Â In fact, I applaud the author for so thoroughly telling the varying stories of multiple characters within one novel.Â I see less and less of this layered style of writing and I enjoyed the depth of the story.
The only aspect of the story that I found slightly unsettling were two statements that the young clergyman in training made about God.Â They are the type of statements that you often hear spoken, however, they are still incorrect concepts in regard to the Scriptures.
The first was the statement that he was sure that she hadn’t done something that God couldn’t forgive.Â The context of the statement made it sound as if there are things that God won’t forgive, just that she wouldn’t have done them.Â Perhaps that is not what the author intended to communicate, but the implication seemed to practically jump off the page at me and seemed unfortunate.Â The second was was when he was talking with his mother and, in light of her commitment to prayer, he said that now he would get his answer from God.Â Again, this is an everyday statement that could have been made in good fun, however, it set up an idea that God hears and answers the prayers of one person (perhaps a more devout person) over the prayers of another.
Now, just like the Bible itself, narrative reports what is, rather than what should be, and yet, I am always a bit disappointed when an author doesn’t find a way to subtly weave truth into the tale so that at the end of the story we not only have an understanding of what is, but we also have a vision for what should be.Â I would have liked to see countering statements to both of these thoughts within the context of the growth of the would-be priest.
In truth, I’m a critical reader.Â I’m always looking at every book (and in fact every movie, every song, etc) to discover what it is teaching.Â And apart from these very minor details I enjoyed this novel.
Irish Meadows was creative, layered and entertaining.Â I would recommend it.