Generation of Phelans have occupied Mossgrove, a well-tended farm in the rolling countryside, working hard and surviving a feud with unscrupulous neighbours. Suddenly and unexpectedly the farm comes under threat from within, and the family is torn asunder. Set like John B. Keane's 'The Bodhran Makers' in the early 1950s, the novel explores the passions, the struggles and the joy of a life lived close to the land. Alice Taylor is the author of the international bestseller 'To School Through the Fields'.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
A nostalgic tale of Ireland in the 1950s, by the popular novelist whose previous labors in this vineyard (Country Days, 1995, etc.) have established her as a master of the genre. The current mania for all things Irish has been responsible, happily, for providing a ready, new audience for the honorable Celtic tradition of the family saga. Here we are introduced to the Phelans, who have worked their plot of land in County Cork for as long as anyone can remember - which in Ireland is a very long time indeed. Ned Phelan runs the farm, having inherited it from his drunken father Billy, and he has managed to make something of the place after working long years to overcome his father's decades of neglect. Ned's wife Martha is a trifle conceited, but their marriage is fairly happy - and life goes well for them and their children, Nora and Peter, until Ned is killed in a riding accident. After that, Martha falls apart, sliding into depression, and Ned's sister Kate Phelan steps in and tries to put Martha back on her feet. Kate, a trained nurse and teacher, dreams of opening a school for the children of the village, but the parish priest, fearful of secular education, stands in her way. She must also deal with her neighbors, the Conways, who have been feuding with the Phelans for generations and now want to take advantage of Ned's death to seize the Phelan lands. In her struggle to save the farm and open her school, Kate simply wants to preserve the best of Ireland's past while opening it to the future. Will she succeed? Sentimental and melodramatic to the max. If you get teary-eyed reading about turf fires and pony traps, this is the book for you. (Kirkus Reviews)