“I hate this famine,” Meg whispered in his ear. “’Tis the cruelest thing in all creation.”
The village of Kelegeen in Ireland is struck by the potato famine and each family does what it takes to survive. The first year isn’t so bad as most have pigs or services they can sell to have money for food and rent for the land they work. As each year passes with failing potato crops, starvation, disease and death take over the countryside. A young couple, engaged to be married, set plans in motion to do anything to help their two families survive. Hope is often found in the eyes of the local priest or visiting British doctor, but is hope enough?
I was asked to review Kelegeen by its author through my blog. I was given a free copy in exchange for a fair review. I thought the plot looked interesting, and as much as I love historical fiction, I had yet to read a book set during the potato famine in Ireland.
Meg and Rory postpone their plans to marry after the first famine, not wanting to bring “bairns” into the world when there is not enough food to feed those already alive. Meg and her mother and sisters take in mending work to earn more money. Rory carves wooden figures, boxes and combs and sells them for good prices in town to get money for food. However, the famine combined with the British landlords’ lack of compassion leads the families to face one tragedy after another. The priest tries to help, but his own heart needs mending. Finally, Meg hears of people leaving for America. Could they hope for a better life elsewhere?
I was captivated by the story in Kelegeen and will recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I learned a lot about the potato famine and the descriptions of what the people suffered through will stick with me for a long time. Children eating bark off trees and complete villages dying to disease are both described and knowing it was a true even struck my heart. I look forward to seeing what the author writes next.