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A River in the Trees

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Two women. Two stories. One hundred years of secrets.

A sweeping novel of love, loss, family and history for readers who love Maggie O'Farrell, John Boyne and Donal Ryan


Hannah is nineteen years old and living on her family's farm in West Cork. Her peaceful world is shattered forever by the eruption of the War of Independence, Ireland's bid for freedom from Britain.
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 10th 2019 by riverrun
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Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  94 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jacqueline O'Mahony writes of two women from the same family set a hundred years apart, with a narrative that goes back and forth in time, from the present to the past. In 1919 in West Cork, Ireland, Hannah O'Donovan has her life splintered apart amidst Ireland's efforts to throw off the yoke of English rule with the War of Independence. She and her father become involved in offering refuge to Irish rebels in their home, endangering their family as the British make their presence felt in the ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland, 2019-read
I just love Irish lit and books that feature politics - and her debut novel clearly proves that Jacqueline O'Mahony knows how to write a captivating story. In this text, she elegantly interweaves two storylines: In 1919, during the War of Independence, young Hannah helps her father to hide rebel soldiers on their farm, falls in love with a young IRA fighter (mind you: As I learnt, thanks to the book, the "Old IRA" is not the same IRA we know today) and gets pregnant - which is very shameful for ...more
Roman Clodia
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is what they have done to us, she thought. They have blackened our hearts

This a book which falls into two halves: the first part set in Ireland, 1919, is superb - a tight, intense tale, lyrically and powerfully told, worthy of 5 stars.

Interspersed, though, is one of those stories of the modern descendents of the first tale, set in 2019, of which authors seem to be so fond... even when it does little other than fill space. This part was a 2 star experience for me.

It feels to me that the
Told from alternating points of view, the stories and experiences of the two women – Hannah in 1919 and Ellen in the present day – subtly mirror each other in some respects and provide contrasts in others. The author leaves it to the reader to make the connections or note the differences between how the two women respond to the events that unfold in their lives and the choices they make.

Ellen is a troubled, lost soul, seemingly suffering from a form of post-natal depression, who has turned to
Joanna Park
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the type of book that I absolutely love! A dual timeline story seeped in interesting history and some fabulous characters makes it a perfect read for me.

The story follows Hannah in 1919 who helps her father fight for Irish independence and Ellen in 2019 who is struggling with life and wants to try and work through her problems by visiting her ancestry. Although both stories were interesting I did prefer Hannah’s story as she was the fiesty, independent character that I love to read
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A well written book with a dual timeline. The present day and Ireland in 1919, a shameful time when the Tans ruled Ireland and killed people for fun.
I have an interest in this era as my Grand-Uncle fought in the Civil War. He was shot in the leg while on sentry duty one night and it bothered him for the rest of his life. I remember him as a real gentleman and couldn't envision him firing a gun.
This was a truly depressing read. There was no lightness in it at all. The historical part was
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A River in The Trees tells the story of Hannah and Ellen, who are from the same family, but 100 years apart. In 1919, Hannah and her family were involved in the War of Independence where they helped hide the rebels from the British army. In 2019, Ellen, broken and in grief after the loss of her baby, went back to Ireland in the hope of saving her marriage and most importantly saving herself.

The book's narrative alternated between the events of the two timelines; Hannah back in 1919 and Ellen in
Mairead Hearne (
*My Rating 3.5*

Two women
Two stories
One hundred years of secrets

A River in the Trees is the debut novel from London-based, but Cork-born, writer Jacqueline O’ Mahony and was published by riverrun (an imprint of Quercus Books)

A dual time story, it is described as a novel ‘about families, secrets and the impossibility of coming home.’

Being a native Corkonian I was intrigued to read this book

A River in The Trees is set in a small town in West Cork. It’s 1919 and the Irish War of Independence is
Theresa Smith
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-bingo-2019
‘“We are a nothing people to them,” he’d said. “A nothing people.”’

I’ve always had an affinity with Irish history. I got very deep into it when I was in my twenties and read extensively from the famine through to the troubles. I’m still drawn to all things Irish, inexplicably so, but I guess we all have our areas of interest, even if we can’t quite articulate our reasoning. All of this has led to me having a solid grasp on the Irish War of Independence, so I was in good stead for reading this
Clare O'Beara
This tale in two timelines is more women's fiction than romance, but could have been better researched. In 2019 at the start, a woman buys a pack of ten cigarettes. I was wondering what country she is in, but she's in Ireland. Where packs of ten were made illegal in 2007.

I never took to the contemporary part but the historical time line is interesting; the Cork area in 1919 as independence and soon-to-be civil war are causing huge tensions. A comparatively well off farm family get involved when
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just before the War of Independence in Ireland, in 1919, Hannah O’Donovan’s family are on the side of the rebels, a stance the consequences of which are far-reaching. A hundred years later, Ellen’s life is falling apart and when she hears that the old family property is up for sale, she flees back, determined to buy it. Narrated in alternating chapters from alternating points of view, the two women’s lives start to intersect in a dramatic and gripping story that engaged me completely. It’s an ...more
Philomena Callan Cheekypee
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved-it
A River in the Trees is a well written debut novel.

We get two stories told in here. Hannah in 1919 and Ellen in 2019, same family but a hundred years apart. These are two strong likeable characters.

As I’m Irish I was looking forward to reading this and I wasn’t disappointed. It has a great storyline and told in a lovely captivating way. I’ll be keeping my eye out on more stories from this author.
Margaret Madden
Review to follow...
Jo Barton
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Two women. Two stories. One hundred years of secrets. Everything I love about dual time stories is found in A River in the Trees which looks at two very different women whose stories overlap and interweave in a story of family secrets and hidden tragedy.

1919, and in West Cork, Hannah is living a bleak existence on the family farm. It's a life of hardship which is made all the more complicated by the family's involvement in the Irish War of Independence. Hiding a group of rebel fighters in the
Anne Goodwin
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The two strands interact as Ellen visits the house and speaks to locals, learning more about her family’s secrets. But even without that connection, these would be entertaining stories. The prose is lovely, elegant and yet seemingly effortless, and the two main characters, with their contrasting personalities, appealing on the page. Although her life has been restricted, Hannah is brave and determined; Ellen, with more apparent opportunity, is caught in a self-destructive spiral. Who wouldn’t be ...more
Jun 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Raw and bleak. The writing was lovely, but I was drained after finishing. There were so many glowing reviews, though. I’m definitely in the minority. And it isn’t that I can’t handle sadness. Some of my favorites have made me weep. There were a few pages of this I was forced to skip as I couldn’t bear to read it. Rating is difficult. Maybe 3 stars, or 3 and a half.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lois Carr
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘A River in the Trees’ is an incredible historical fiction novel by Jacqueline O’Mahony which really captured my heart and made me want to keep reading and reading and reading until I was done. It’s set in Ireland which I absolutely loved and it has made me want to read more stories that take place there.

This wonderful book takes you on a journey back and forth between Hannah, in 1919 and Ellen, in the present 2019. Both characters were developed so well and I fell in love with them instantly.
Lewis Phillips
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
'We can all see the shape of what is to come for us, she thought. We all know, somewhere inside ourselves, what will be.'

I have read this book as one might brave a strong wind: bundled up and ready for anything. My copy of A River in the Trees is well-worn, even after my short time with it, its edges have curled, and its pages wear the speckled marks and crumbs of lunches and dinners. It has been with me as I’ve moved through these early January days – and thanks to it, they have been well-read
Claire (Silver Linings and Pages)
This novel is told in a dual timeline, following two women in Ireland 100 years apart. In 1919 Hannah's peaceful family life is shattered when the War of Independence breaks out. At a huge cost, her family hides rebel soldiers on their West Cork farm from the British army, and life will forever be changed after she and the rebel leader act on their instant attraction. In 2019, heartbroken Ellen decides to return home to Ireland, having lost a baby. She visits the old farmhouse that
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Blurb from web:

1919: ireland is about to be torn apart by the War of Independence.

Hannah O'Donovan helps her father hide rebel soldiers in the attic, putting her family in great danger from the British soldiers who roam the countryside. An immediate connection between Hannah and O'Riada, the leader of this hidden band of rebels, will change her life and that of her family forever . . .


Ellen is at a crossroads: her marriage is in trouble, her career is over and she's grieving the loss of a
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The River in the Trees by Jacqueline O’Mahony really is a special read; think Cecelia Ahern but grittier and subtle in how it weaves Ellen and Hannah’s stories together.

O’Mahony’s use of dual narrative is a triumph as it showcases the parallels which exist between lives even one hundred years apart. It allows The River in the Trees to be steeped in both history and the human experience of love, loss and conflict.

The story is appropriately paced, ensuring the reader’s own life swiftly becomes
Cen-sational Reads
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
A River in the Tree by Jacqueline O’Mahony.
The lovely folk at @quercusbooks @anabooks sent me this beautiful book which was published 10th Jan 2019.
This is a duel timeline book. It is based around a family mainly 2 members- be it 100 years apart 1918-2019. Like in all families it is about secrets, love, loss and conflict.
At first I did find it difficult popping from 1 era to the next however the more I read the more I found I enjoyed it and that you needed the duel timeline to make the story
Veronica Freeney
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I could be wrong but I think setting some of the book in 1919 is historically incorrect. The 'Tans' were sent to Ireland in 1920 by Winston Churchill. I accept this work is fiction but I think some mention of this 'playing' with historical dates could or should have been put in a forward. I enjoyed it but quite honestly I don't know what if any weight or substance is given to the plot by basing some of it in 2019. I can't help thinking that the straightforward telling of the story of Hannah ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of two women from the same family but 100 years apart.
It starts in Ireland in 1919 when Ireland is being torn apart by the war of independence and centres around Hannah and her family who offer refuge to Irish rebels in their home.
In 2019 Ellen has many issues in her life and when she is drawn to Ireland when a farmhouse is up for sale which belonged to her family many years ago, she learns things about her family that she could not have imagined.
I enjoyed this novel and would
Della O'Brien
Jun 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: irish
This was a bit bleak. A story set in 1919 & 2019. the earlier year covers the time when the Black and Tans were running riot in Ireland. The ancestor of the 2019 main character Hannah, gets caught up in it all which eventually ruins her life. The main 2019 character Ellen has her own battles. However the two lives cannot compare. I did read it very quickly as I was intrigued and of course it's an Irish author.
Sue Blanchard
Thankyou to NetGalley, Quercus Books, Riverrun and the author, Jacqueline O'Mahony, for the opportunity to read a digital copy of A River in the Trees in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.
Unfortunately, while I did enjoy some parts of the storyline, I felt the overall telling was very slow. Not a book for me.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read

Totally loved this story!!! I do hope there is a follow up, written so beautifully, powerful and provoking a must read!!
Rachel Gibb
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gem ~ Bee
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
An addictive and emotive read
This book was definitely addictive and I stayed up very late to finish the final third. The opening prologue is one of the best ones I have read, it leads you right in and in a few paragraphs you immediately get the scene set on the house, the characters and their circumstances, and desperately want to read more.

My knowledge of Irish history is depressingly dismal. I have tried over the years to educate myself on important elements but this remains something that I,
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