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The Garden of Martyrs

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  100 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Two Irish Catholic immigrants, Dominic Daley and James Halligan, were traveling west on the Boston Post Road, headed for New York. A man named Marcus Lyon was robbed and killed along the same road. Though the two Irishmen denied any knowledge of the crime, they were arrested and accused of the murder. They spent five months in jail. Only two days before their trial they we ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2004)
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A story about two Irishmen in 1806 Boston who were falsely accused of robbing, then brutally murdering a man. “Pseudo” because the author expands on details of the lives of the accused in a fictional way, but it’s based on an actual historical event.

I liked it quite a lot, his style’s easy to read, the language is fitting for the period and not a bit pretentious. It’s fairly heart-wrenching, though, with the young French priest who’s torn between what he thinks he should do for the prisoners an
Feb 12, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Profoundly moving story of two real life Irish-Catholic immigrants in 1805 New England who are falsely accused and then executed for a murder they did not commit. A French immigrant priest is asked to counsel them. The extreme prejudice against Irish-Catholics is laid out in this novel. There were only two priests in all of New England at the time.

The priest carries extreme guilt over his own past in France, as does one of the prisoners, for his own past sins. The self examination and spiritual
Mar 18, 2010 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 1806, two Irish Catholics were traveling the Mass Turnpike and were found in possession of a murdered man's money, not too far from where the dead Wilbraham man's body was found. Already a "lesser race", the two immigrants were quickly accused and were forced to face a trial at the mercy of the very Protestant, anti-immigrant, judicial system in Massachusetts. In this historical fiction (all of the characters did exist and the event is in the record books; the men were pardoned in 1984 by the ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, ireland
Heartbreaking! I teared up in many places. This was based on a true story of a murder in 1806 in Boston. The two main protagonists were wrongly convicted and hanged. Gov. Dukakis finally pardoned them in the 1980s. Study of prejudice -- against the Irish and Catholics, at that time in history. Another main character was a French Catholic priest, who fled the Terror of the French Revolution, and whose guilt at not staying and suffering martyrdom with his fellow clergy had tortured him for many ye ...more
Breakaway Reviewers
A beautifully descriptive novel

A beautifully descriptive novel based on true facts, with a liberal sprinkling of poetic licence and liberty. It vividly paints the picture of early 19th century America in Massachusetts, New England.

It’s about the murder of Marcus Lyon in Northampton June 1806 – only it isn’t.

It’s a social commentary of the times, and the politics, prejudices and bigotry of a fearful country. In particular, New England Yankees who were antagonistic towards people who were immigran
Zeb Kantrowitz
Mar 29, 2015 Zeb Kantrowitz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-read
This is the fictionalized story of two Boston Irish immigrants (Dominic Daley and James Halligan) who were accused of killing a man along the Turnpike in Western Massachusetts in the first decade of the nineteenth century. They were tried and found guilty and hanged. But that’s not the whole story.

Around the story of how the men came to America and their deaths, their tale is one of people who were considered nothing but thieves and reprobates. They were hated because as Roman Catholics, the ma
May 14, 2009 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the true story of two Irish immigrants to Boston who are framed for a murder in 1805 and then railroaded in court. It's an interesting snapshot of the period, with all its anti-Catholic bigotry, but the pacing is slow and there really aren't many surprises to keep things interesting. The characterization is a tad repetitive and I struggled to stay engaged with the story. It's a good history lesson, but a bit boring.
Solid 3.5 - sad, yet vivid tale Catholics, Irish and poor pioneering from England, France and Ireland facing discrimination and hatred, they believed they were leaving. Papist,poor and Irish characters revolve around a misjustice of courts and blatant corrupt politics. Interesting story, kept my interest for 70% and dragged for about 30%. Good read for historical, Irish, and early America politics fans.
Jackie Sanderson
As an Irish Catholic who was born in Massachusetts, where this novel is set, I was amazed by this novel. It gave me a picture of the early 1800s history of anti-Irish Catholic feelings in Mass. Between this book and Nancy Zaroulis' Call the Darkness Light( set in Lowell, Mass.), I now know about big chunks of history missing from the history books I had in school.
May 18, 2010 Marina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book back when it was first published and it has stuck with me ever since. I live in Massachusetts so this historical novel gave me a glimpse of history of this state specially in religion, culture and immigration. I thought that the book was written beautifully: the plot was interesting and the character's every detail and emotions felt very real.
Sep 28, 2014 Bank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on a true story of two penniless Irish Catholic immigrants to Boston in 1806 . As convenient suspects , charged with murder , tried in a politically charged court in the midst of intense anti Irish immigration bigotry and hate , no due process , and and then hung at the public gallows . The true murderer was never found .
An equally intense hatred of papists ( ie all Irish ) was widespread . Since Henry 8th , the Protestants and Catholics had been at war and we can clearly see it carried o
Mar 13, 2012 Kari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story, which is fortunate because I'm playing Bridie in Eric Sawyer's opera adaptation, set to premiere in 2013. The facts of the hanging are true, but the book is beautifully constructed, using the women to demonstrate the humanity of the accused men and offering a moving imagining of the life of a French priest.
Dec 08, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two Irish Catholic immigrants are unjustly accused and convicted of murder. An Irish priest, struggling with his own regrets about his conduct in the French Revolution, tries to help them. A novel about irrational ethnic/religious hatred and people's attempts to live with and despite of it.
Jul 08, 2010 Kathleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book as much as I have others of Michael White. However, if you are interested in how the Irish were treated and anti-Catholicism in MA in the early 1800's, you will find this book very illuminating.
Aug 21, 2011 Eileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

This was a mesmerizing, deeply moving story based on an actual occurrence. The author gives a vivid of the New England setting and the prevailing attitudes at the time.
Michelle Stevens
This is a story based on true events that altho very depressing is so well written that makes you not want to put the book down.
Eileen Slattery
Dec 24, 2012 Eileen Slattery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read, very powerful. If you enjoy local history, this is a must read.
Mark Greene
Feb 04, 2012 Mark Greene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and especially interesting if you have any connection to Western Massachusetts
Aug 29, 2007 Leah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Anyone read this yet?
Kathleen Basi
For a history of anti-Catholicism in Mass., very interesting. As a novel, the first half felt pretty slow. Worthwhile read.
Just can't get into this. Maybe I'll come back to it another time. Really wanted to explore this piece of Northampton history.
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Author of Resting Places

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