Graham's Reviews > Star of the Sea

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
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Jan 04, 12

bookshelves: 19th-century, literature, mystery
Read from December 12, 2011 to January 02, 2012, read count: 1

This isn't a bad book at all, even if it does get a bit self-consciously 'literary' in places. I love Victorian-era fiction and I love the author's way of setting the time and place with lots of little extra touches - pictures, ship's logs, letters, stories, etc. It certainly breaks up the narrative which would be otherwise overwhelming.

My problem is that the blurb misadvertises this as a ship-board murder-mystery when it isn't anything of the sort. Instead, it's a slow and long-winded exploration of the Irish potato famine, exploring it from the point of view of both those affected and the landowners stuck in the middle of it. O'Connor is careful to provide a non-biased account of the times and I enjoyed learning about his subject. The depiction of life for Irish immigrants onboard a ship bound for America is also exemplary.

Almost the entire novel consists of the intermingled back-stories of lots of different characters. It can be tiresome to read in places, but I did find that I was always able to pick up the book again and read on, so it does have strong readability. By far the best part is an account of the life of Pius Mulvey, a truly sinister character undergoing some bizarre adventures around England and Ireland.
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