Patrick Rooney's Reviews > Return to Killybegs

Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
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it was amazing

Return to Killybegs is a mesmerizing story about an IRA warrior who subsequently is labeled a traitor to Belfast's IRA during "The Troubles." The novel provides a poignant, insightful expose of what fighting a guerilla war is really like, as well as the abhorrent conditions IRA soldiers - both men and women - endured in Northern Ireland's prisons.

As an American with Irish parents, I'd heard snippets of conversation in hushed tones while I grew up about the hardships and war-torn strife they and my ancestors had endured for many generations. However, I never understood the depth of despair, resilience, and courage the Irish Catholics faced in Northern Ireland's ghettos until I read Sorj Chalandon's book.

I took my time reading the novel, looking at on-line maps and studying historical figures described in the story, in order to absorb as much as I could about what took place during the war. It was interesting to read about how devoted the IRA women were to the war effort; standing beside and supporting their men - fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands - with fierce determination, like the ancient Celtic and Viking female warriors of Ireland's past.

Some of my favorite lines in the book come near the end: "Peace? Uninteresting. Hope is harder to sell than fear." It seems to me that this statement describes one of humankind's perpetual blindspots.

Although the main characters are fictional - but based on real people and events - I believe the story, with aspects of both thriller and memoir genres, will be an important chapter in Ireland's history surrounding "The Troubles." Wonderful, deeply emotional writing that kept me thinking about Ireland's Catholic and Protestant combatants for days while I read as well as after I finished the book. Highly recommended!
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Reading Progress

November 1, 2016 – Shelved
November 13, 2016 – Started Reading
January 2, 2017 – Finished Reading

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