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The Year of the French (The Thomas Flanagan Trilogy #1)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  472 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In 1798, Irish patriots, committed to freeing their country from England, landed with a company of French troops in County Mayo, in westernmost Ireland. They were supposed to be an advance guard, followed by other French ships with the leader of the rebellion, Wolfe Tone. Briefly they triumphed, raising hopes among the impoverished local peasantry and gathering a group of ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published October 31st 2004 by NYRB Classics (first published 1979)
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I don't expect to review or rate too many books, but here's one I just had to, mostly because I'm going to start Flannagan's final book on Ireland soon. This one, which I read years ago, is one of the most underrated I can think of. Sad, beautiful, frightening... once I let the adjectives get going, they won't stop.

Literature, history and poetry working seamlessly together, it's a truly rewarding read, though not always an easy one. Not only does TF have an utterly convincing grasp of the mood,
Susan Johnson
review is from: The Year of the French (Paperback)
This is one of the finest books I have ever read. The language and the writing are so wonderful that you just have to savor it. It took me a long time to read this as I couldn't read in a rapid manner. It was like a wonderful, warm, inviting bed that you just want to get in and roll around and enjoy it.
I knew nothing about this time period and event in Ireland. It was the book club choice for my Goodreads Irish book club and I am so glad I found
Talk about a book freighted with weird and erroneous expectations. I was nine when it was published, twelve when the momentous occasion of the Irish-made (or half-Irish-made) production locked the nation to their screens every Sunday night. It was a big deal. The book was ubiquitous. It seemed to be in every library, bookshop, house, waiting room and - seeing as my Dad was a mechanic - left under the back window of half the cars in Ireland. All I knew was that I wanted nothing to do with it. Iri ...more
M. Milner
An immersive novel, Thomas Flanagan’s historical novel takes readers right into the muck and bogs of 18th century Ireland, it’s prejudices and injustices, it’s poetry and cruelty. It’s pretty great.

For years, Flanagan was a professor of Irish fiction, specializing in 19th century Irish novelists, writers who were basically blotted out by James Joyce’s explosive fiction. An American, Flanagan spent a lot of time there and befriended several writers (including Seamus Deane, who contributes a short
Angela Paquin
Aug 22, 2007 Angela Paquin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Famine Irish
Shelves: haveread
It was dense history. But it was a history for anyone who had ancestors from County Mayo.

Thanks to this book I understand why the my mother's hometown of Clinton MA has the Fighting Gaels, why the Acre is called the Acre, why the busiest street is high st and not main st.... Thanks to the book I have an understanding and a better appreciation of the names of landmarks in the town that our ancestors were using from the Old Country.

The importance of the poet and historian in Irish tradition. The
I was torn in final assessment of Thomas Flanagan’s novel “The Year of the French.” It is a fine combination of scholarship and entertainment. It represents history and fiction intricately interwoven – a fine example of a good historical novel. It is also, however, too long and at times so slow as to border on tedium. A sharp editor’s pencil could have culled fifty pages out and improved the novel significantly. A good novel must maintain narrative impetus; Flanagan loses it in the run up to the ...more
A sad, haunting tale--- an account of the Irish rising of 1798 and the French landing in support of the rebellion. Flanagan calls up the shock and horror of the doomed rebellion and the savage punishment inflicted by the English as well as the bitter political in-fighting among the Irish and the growing knowledge that the French have their own designs on Ireland and care nothing for Irish independence. Well-written and powerful.
Page 151:
"Are they the soldiers from the ships?" "Yes," MacCarthy said. "French soldiers, the French have landed."

The plot describes the French invasion of Ireland and the rebellion by the native Irish also know as The Races of Castlebar, County Mayo.

The story itself is quite interesting even if an American-born writer wrote it.

However, it’s not an easy book to read since it has 5 different narrators and at least 60 characters.

A The Year of the French (1982) TV series was made based on this boo
Deborah Lincoln
Originally published in 1979, this is a novel of the 1798 Irish rebellion attributed to Wolfe Tone, who appears briefly. The French, a thousand soldiers under Humbert, land in County Mayo and lead a rabble of peasants and United Irishmen in doomed revolt. Owen MacCarthy, poet and rake, tends to be the central (fictional) character. Actual historical characters are also featured, including George and John Moore of Moore House (John was briefly the first president of the Irish Republic). Told from ...more
This is another of those "if you have an ounce of Irish blood in you" you have to read. It's about the very sad attempted rising in the 18th century. The name comes from the hope that France would come and assist the rebellion. I'm so glad I still have this book. It will be a great reread.
Usually, when I take a month to read a book, that's not a good sign. Not so in this case. "The Year of the French" is a densely-layered book that gives an account of the 1798 landing of French troops, accompanied by Irish patriots, in County Mayo, Ireland. Buoyed by the American and French revolutions, the United Irishmen were ready to throw off English rule. Early victories seemed to indicate success. But the English retaliation was brutal and the rebellion was crushed.

The story is told by seve
Dec 28, 2008 Monica marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Uncle Jim, then Donald, 30 odd years later
Mom was first generation Irish. Her brother read this book back in the1980's and started an argument during a family visit and proceeded to leave us all there in a lurch.
Also by Thomas Flanagan: Tenants of Time and The End of the Hunt, both 4 star
Carolyn Stevens Shank
The Irish question explained: a gripping and very tragic account of the 1798 French landing in County Mayo, Ireland, which triggered a brutal and bloody revolution against the English: the prequel to the Act of Union. An absorbing and masterful historical novel, Tom Flanagan's 1979 masterpiece deals with the complexities of the clash between English and Irish cultures. A wide and memorable list of characters recreate the event in a fast-paced and seamlessly accurate account. It is peopled with ...more
Mike Monahan
Fascinating variety of perspectives on "The Year of the French"

Fascinating variety of perspectives on "The Year of the French"

I found this a delightful telling of the dreadful events of 1798 from the perspective of the participants. I was caught up in the telling and amazed by the author's versatility in stepping in and out of the various characters. The maps and the cast of characters were helpful additions.
Sora O'doherty
A beautifully written historical novel about events not well known. I had the great privilege of studying with Thomas Flanagan at U.C. Berkeley during his time there, and he was the greatest teacher of writing I ever experience or can ever imagine. I wound up saying, whatever he is teaching is what I am studying, and went on to get a Master's Degree in Anglo-Irish literature. Brilliant book from a gentle, unassuming master.
Quite simply a brilliant novel, ostensibly centered on the Irish Rebellion of 1798 desribed from multiple points of view--characters from all levels of eighteenth century Anglo-Irish society. But the novel truly attempts to convey the complexity and contradictions inherent in the term "Ireland," a society riven by economic and religious strife as well as enslavement (or enchantment) with legends, fables and poetry, creating the illusion of an heroic past and the prophecy of a glorious future. Th ...more
Buddy Don
While this was a wonderful historical novel, giving one a full appreciation for the situation in Ireland during 1798, I can't call it a "good read," since there is nothing to hope for in the book. The troubles between Ireland and England always seemed insoluble to me (I'm delighted to have eventually been wrong), and during this period of time, when the French sent a small force to help foment an Irish rebellion, there was no good outcome for which a reader could hope. I had to push my way throu ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Don is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This would have been a good read back in 1979 when I first heard about it at an Irish Fortnight at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, MN. Unfortunately, time has cast a spell over it. I'd prefer to see Braveheart or Angela's Ashes again than to slog through this long, dry book of failed heroism, or so it seemed after reading the first 28 pages. What I was looking for was some sort of humanism from the Renaissance, but the characters seemed to only reflect religious stupidity.

Excellent historical fiction about the 1798 Rising in Ireland. Especially good are the sections seen through the poet/seanachie Owen MacCarthy.
Paul Barron
This was an amazing book and journey, an episode of Irish history that is largely forgotten. The year of liberty 1798 usually concentrates on the Wexford rising. The People's Republic of Connaught,the midlands and Ulster not garnering as much interest.

Flanagan suceeds in giving a social snapshot of the time the rebellion being viewed from many differing viewpoints. The book is brilliantly written, much more of an achievement as Flanagan was an American.

I visited Ballinamuck last year scene of 't
Almost chose the 5-star 'it was amazing' because of the work that clearly went into writing it: Grand writing, told from a dozen separate points of view, that slowly gathers history into the overall historical tale, like a snowball rolling downhill. Sad (don't read this looking for a 'cheery book'...), almost infuriating (in terms of the attitudes of those who wound up 'being victorious' after the conflict came to its momentary end), and 'felt true.' Recommended read. (I read an old paperback ve ...more
I read all of Thomas Flanagan's Ireland novels, but this was my favorite.
Well, I just could not finish this book. Its taken a month and I am only 250 pages into 600+. I decided to read others while trying to finish this one, but no use. I had no desire to get back to it. I did learn some about the Irish troubles but I found the multiple view points confusing along with the various different locations. 3.2
An excellent book about a little-known episode in Irish history, yet it was one of the most important, marking the beginning of the Society of United Irishmen. Flanagan vividly portrays the emotions, the hopes, and the prejudices of all involved in this brief conflict, English and Irish, French, Catholic and Protestant, men and women, landowner, poet, and Mayo peasant, using a combination of real and fictional characters.
One of the reasons to read Thomas Flanagan's The Year of the French is to discover just how many of America's current political and social problems are rooted in Irish history and politics. Gun rights, alcohol, colonialism and its lingering effects, the tripartite division of government into branches--all these can be traced back to Irish struggles for freedom from Britain.
Mary Korey
I do not think that the author could make up his mind if he was telling a story or just randomly putting down thoughts of various characters from an interesting period of history. I only finished the boo, because I kept hoping it would get better. It was definitely easy to
put down!
This book is at times beautifully written, and other times just too dense (in terms of an propensity of words and characters) to absorb. For aficionados of Irish history, this is a must read as it's a historical novel that doesn't miss a scene of the Irish uprisings of the late 1700s.
Sep 08, 2013 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs, Celtophiles
Recommended to Bill by: Mo Daley
Well written. Mr. Flanagan writes in many distinct voices, bringing a wide array of personalities to life in a book with so many main characters. Perhaps a bit too wordy at times, overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who like historical fiction.
I found this fascinating - the French invaded Ireland in 1798 at the request of Irish rebels. Very interesting description of the way the Irish Catholics were viewed by the Protestant Irish and the English (pretty similar to how blacks were viewed in the South...)
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  • George Mills
  • Strumpet City
  • October Light
  • 1916: The Easter Rising
  • Amongst Women
  • The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849
  • The Middleman and Other Stories
  • Blood on the Forge
  • Victorine
  • Famine
  • 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion
  • Stones of Aran: Pilgrimage (Stones of Aran #1)
  • Women in Their Beds: New and Selected Stories
  • Fools of Fortune
  • Memoirs of Hecate County
  • Conquered City
  • The New York Stories
  • I Am of Irelaunde: A Novel of Patrick and Osian
Thomas Flanagan (November 5, 1923 – March 21, 2002) was an American professor of English literature who specialized in Irish literature. He was also a successful novelist. Flanagan, who was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, graduated from Amherst College in 1945. He was a tenured full - Professor in the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley until his retirement. Flanagan died ...more
More about Thomas Flanagan...

Other Books in the Series

The Thomas Flanagan Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Tenants of Time  (The Thomas Flanagan Trilogy #2)
  • The End of the Hunt
The Tenants of Time  (The Thomas Flanagan Trilogy #2) The End of the Hunt There You Are: Writings on Irish & American Literature and History An Introduction to Government and Politics: A Conceptual Approach Louis 'David' Riel: Prophet of the New World

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