Ro­mance novel gives read­ers a taste of Ire­land

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By J ill Cluf f

See­ing Ire­land in per­son has long been a dream of mine. Though I’m not a huge fan of its gray and rainy weather, you can’t beat the lush green and the charm­ing ac­cents. But af­ter read­ing “Long­ing for Home” by Sarah M. Eden, I now re­al­ize that I don’t know much about Ir­ish his­tory.

In the 1800s, ten­ant farm­ing (work­ing but not own­ing the land) was more com­mon than not. All the har­vested crops went to other peo­ple or other coun­tries with the prof­its go­ing to fill the pock­ets of the land own­ers. This left the ten­ants with lit­tle more than a scrap of land left over to gar­den and feed their own fam­i­lies.

Then in 1840, a blight wiped out much of the potato crop, bring­ing the be­gin­ning of what is now called “The Famine.” Over a mil­lion peo­ple died of star­va­tion and a mil­lion more fled the coun­try in search of food and jobs. This led to a mas­sive im­mi­gra­tion to the United States, first in the east coast, and then to the open land of the west. This great western fron­tier is where our story takes place.

Katie Ma­cauley has come to Hope Springs, Wy­oming in search of a bet­ter life. Hav­ing left Ire­land many years be­fore, she hopes that her new job as a house­keeper to a wealthy busi­ness­man will fi­nally give her the money she needs to travel back home.

She car­ries around with her a great weight of sad­ness be­cause she feels re­spon­si­ble for her own sis­ter’s death and the loss of her fam­ily’s land dur­ing “The Famine.” Her own fa­ther gave her away to be a ser­vant at only 8 years old and that harsh and lonely life has been her re­al­ity ever since. En route to Hope Springs, she meets the im­per­ti­nent and im­pos­si­bly handsome Tav­ish O’Con­nor – and in­stantly dis­likes him. Her fiery Ir­ish na­ture and years of hard­ship break forth and sparks fly be­tween the two, but not the good kind. Where she sees an­noy­ance, he sees a chal­lenge.

Then Katie ar­rives at the farm for her new job and meets Mr. Joseph Archer, who is as re­fined and soft­spo­ken as Tav­ish is bold and flir­ta­tious. She rel­ishes the new set­ting but she quickly learns that she was not aware of all the job re­quire­ments. Not only is she ex­pected to keep house, but to take care of two lit­tle girls as well.

Her past with her sis­ter rears its ugly head and she finds her­self pan­ick­ing at the mere thought of any child be­ing un­der her care. She gets into a fight with a man for the sec­ond time that day. But as cooler heads pre­vail, Joseph is won over and a deal is struck. She can stay, and a neigh­bor will watch the girls, but he will send for a re­place­ment right away and she must leave when the new house­keeper ar­rives.

This ar­range­ment suits Katie fine; she has no in­ten­tion of stay­ing in Hope Springs. But lit­tle does she know that these two men will so en­dear her to them that sud­denly she’s not sure which place feels more like home – Wy­oming or Ire­land.

What a de­light this book was to read. I don’t ven­ture into the “Ro­mance” genre of­ten, mostly be­cause I dis­agree with its vul­gar con­tent. But the sub­ti­tle of the book says it all – “A Proper Ro­mance.”

There is no in­stant love, no pas­sion­ate bed­room scenes, no one night stands. Katie’s story is one not only of love for others, but of learn­ing to love and for­give her­self. It’s a beau­ti­fully wrought story that is filled with hope and chivalry and friend­ships of the best kind. Not only that, I feel like I have a lit­tle piece of Ire­land with me now be­cause the author de­scribed it so vividly and ef­fec­tively.

Jill Cluff is a some­times li­brar­ian who is mar­ried to one giant and mom to two boys. She loves all things book- and food-re­lated – of­ten at the same time.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MOUNT HAR­MON

Kids arts and crafts are one of the ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able at Mount Har­mon’s Lo­tus Blos­som Art & Na­ture Fes­ti­val on Satur­day.

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