Tag Archives: Marina J. Neary

Spotlight, Guest Post & Giveaway: The Gate of Dawn by Marina J. Neary

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About The Gate of Dawn

Welcome to 1880s Vilnius, a volatile Northeastern metropolis where Balts, Germans, Poles, Russians, and Jews compete for a place in the sun. After sustaining fatal burns in a fire instigated by his rivals, textile magnate Hermann Lichtner spends his final days in a shabby infirmary. In a hasty and bizarre deathbed transaction he gives his fifteen-year-old daughter Renate in marriage to Thaddeus, a widowed Polish farmer who rejects social hierarchy and toils side by side with his peasants.

Renate’s arrival quickly disrupts the bucolic flow of life and antagonizes every member of the household. During an excursion to the city, Renate rekindles an affair with a young Jewish painter who sells his watercolors outside the Gate of Dawn chapel. While her despairing husband might look the other way, his servants will not stand by and watch while their adored master is humiliated.

Taking us from the cobblestone streets of old Vilnius, swarming with imperial gendarmes, to the misty bogs of rural Lithuania where pagan deities still rule, The Gate of Dawn is a folkloric tale of rivalry, conspiracy, and revenge.

AMAZON

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Guest Post

Reversing cliches
Historical fiction abounds with tales of skittish, voiceless child brides being married off to callous and lecherous older men. It’s a perfect scenario for a potboiler, because it’s guaranteed to generate a certain emotional reaction out of the female readership. Modern women will sympathize with the poor oppressed lamb and wait for her to be rescued by a dashing highlander/outlaw/starving artist (fill in the blank). But are the stock victim/exploiter roles always clearly delineated? What if the child bride becomes the aggressor, and the older husband becomes a victim? In my latest historical novel The Gate of Dawn (Penmore Press, 2016) I develop that scenario. We have Renate, an assertive, pragmatic fifteen-year old girl of German extraction giving her spineless thirty-year old Polish husband Thaddeus a run for his money. Did I say money? Oh, that’s right. There’s another twist. In this peculiar relationship, it’s the child bride who brings in the money in addition to her youth and promise of procreation. What in the world does her husband have to contribute? A chunk of infertile land with a sinister name Raven’s Bog where nothing grows, a chronically bleeding heart from too many bereavements, and a fantastic amount of religious piety. How in the world did those two end up together?

It started with a bizarre deathbed transaction …
Renate’s father, Hermann Lichtner, a textile magnate, sustains deadly burns in a factory fire instigated by his business rivals. Having only a few hours left to live, he summons his attorney to make a will. Hermann’s biggest dilemma is what to do with his adolescent daughter, who is now left a very wealthy orphan. As a progressive man, Hermann raised Renate to be the successor to his empire rather than a debutante, a future entrepreneur. The devastating fire that obliterated his textile business makes him change his plans. A fifteen-year old girl with a lot of money on her hands can attract all sorts of unsavory characters and get into a great deal of trouble. So the next logical step is to marry her off to a man who is not too predatory or unscrupulous. The only candidate Hermann Lichtner can think of is Thaddeus Dombrowski, a thirty-year old widowed Polish farmer.

Polish men have a reputation for being good husbands. They have the right balance of work ethic, good looks, Catholic guilt and sexual appeal that make them suitable for a lifelong relationship. Despite their physical strength, they are demure, quiet and submissive to their wives, always eager to lift heavy things around the house, always with a sheepish smile and a bottle of beer in hand. For a woman with a strong matriarchal/feminist streak a man like that would be dream come true. Our fifteen-year old heroine is not entirely blind to the advantages her marriage has to offer. The only problem is that Master Dombrowski is not the one who makes the decisions. It’s his Lithuanian servants. Soft-spoken and dangerously democratic, Thaddeus treats his servants as family members and gives them plenty of latitude. They eat at the same table and drink from the same beer barrel. From the moment the young bride arrives at Raven’s Bog, she antagonizes every member of the household. Before long, Thaddeus finds himself torn between his demanding, condescending teenage wife and his increasingly discontented servants, who hate the new lady of the house.

Portraying the heroine
I am fortunate to live close to New York City. I am also fortunate to have publishers who give me some creative latitude. They are open to the idea of me picking models for the cover as opposed to using stock images. I’ve seen enough historical novel covers featuring the same headless model. One of my friends from Historical Novel Society wrote an entire article giving great examples of the same cliche stock photo featuring a blonde woman with anachronistic hair and makeup used for various novel covers. Why rely on stock photos, when there are so many beautiful, unique, ethnic faces around?

To portray the above-mentioned child bride I chose a beautiful New York based modern dancer Logan Devlin, who is actually working in her chosen profession – something so many performing artists only dream of. As her name indicates, she’s of Irish descent. Old enough to vote but not old enough to drink, she can pass for a fifteen-year old. Her bone structure, coloring and expression were spot on. There are so many young female models on the website who fry their skin in tanning salons and put their natural hair through all kinds of torturous procedures to achieve that “ethnically ambiguous look”. Too many actresses end up with orange skin and streaky highlights. They reinvent themselves to the point where you cannot guess their age or their innate ethnicity. So it was very refreshing to find a young actress who takes pride in her natural Germanic complexion. I started planning a draft of The Gate of Dawn 15 years ago, so I had a pretty good idea of what the main characters looked like. So when I saw Logan’s head shot, I immediately thought: this is her!

About Marina J. Neary12274343_10154343296021978_2189503503859888400_n

A self-centered, only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary spent her early years in Eastern Europe and came to the US at the age of thirteen. Her literary career revolves around depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade, to the Irish Famine, to the Easter Rising in Dublin, to the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl some thirty miles away from her home town. Notorious for her abrasive personality and politically incorrect views that make her a persona non grata in most polite circles, Neary explores human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

Her debut thriller Wynfield’s Kingdom was featured on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. After writing a series of novels dealing with the Anglo-Irish conflict, she takes a break from the slums of London and the gunpowder-filled streets of Dublin to delve into the picturesque radioactive swamps of her native Belarus. Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy is a deliciously offensive autobiographical satire featuring sex scandals of Eastern Europe’s artistic elite in the face of political upheavals. Her latest Penmore release, The Gate of Dawn is a folkloric tale of conspiracy and revenge set in czarist Lithuania.

Giveaway

Enter to win a Amazon gift copy of The Gate of Dawn. Open to US residents only. Ends 6/21/16.
ENTRY-FORM

Publisher: Penmore Press LLC (May 19, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, June, Review

Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: Saved by the Bang by Marina Julia Neary

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About Saved by the Bang

Welcome to 1980s Belarus, where Polish denim is the currency, “kike” is a pedestrian endearment, and second trimester abortion can be procured for a box of chocolates. Antonia Olenski, PhD, a catty half-Jewish pianist and leading cock tease of the Gomel Music Academy, wavers between her flamboyant composer husband Joseph and a chivalrous tenor Nicholas. The Chernobyl disaster breaks up the love triangle, forcing Antonia into evacuation in the cumbersome company of her ugly eight-year old daughter Maryana. After a summer of cruising through Crimean sanatoriums and flirting with Afghan veterans, Antonia starts pining for the intrigues and scandals of the Academy. When the queen of cats finally returns home, she finds that another woman is wearing her crown. In the afterglow of nuclear fallout, artistic, ethnic and sexual rivalries emerge. How far will Antonia go to reclaim her throne?

My Review

Marina sure knows how to spin a yarn and this book is no exception. Perfect amount of comedy and tragedy as you are privy to the Olenski’s, a Soviet upper class family’s ride among the chaos and turbulence of 1990’s Russia.

Belarus is the focus as it celebrates its autonomy. Plenty of political sarcasm mixed with dark humor guide the reader gently through the brutality and harshness of the times.

Reading of Antonia and Maryana’s frantic flight from radiation fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, their lives dramatically altered from even more challenges as they eventually find their home in Connecticut is a journey not to be missed.

Antonia and Maryana are true survivors, making the best of challenges and obstacles, victorious in the end.

Wonderfully written, fans seeking satire on an autobiographical level will appreciate Marina’s story.

Guest Post

“Feminism is a game fat American housewives play to feel important.” In a nutshell, that was a very concise description my 1st grade teacher gave me in 1986 when I asked her to clarify the meaning of that word. Before you throw any rotten tomatoes at me, let’s take a step back to process that loaded statement in a historical context. There were so many myths and theories floating around on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s take a moment to deconstruct them.

Weight issues and body image
In a society where food was scarce and public transportation unreliable, an average woman burned hundreds of calories on her way to work. Fat-shaming was rampant. Overweight individuals were perceived as gluttonous, lethargic and lacking self-control in a culture that praised mobility, industriousness and aggression. According to the late Soviet era ethos, some of the worst things you could be were fat and voluntarily unemployed aka “housewife”.

Gender roles (my favorite topic)
“Housewife” was a dirty word, synonymous with “slave” and “cripple”. Unlike their American sisters, Soviet women did not need to fight for their rights. Equality had been pretty much granted to them as result of the 1917 October Revolution. The new government took initiative to bust the old gender roles and minimize the gender gap in the workforce. From day one, girls were taught they could do everything that boys could. When asked which career path she wanted to pursue, a good Soviet girl was expected to reply, “engineering” or “space exploration” or “combat medicine”. If a girl replied “I just want to be a mom”, eyebrows would be raised. Her parents would probably get a call from the school principal.

In Saved by the Bang, my autobiographical satire, you have a fairly traditional matriarchal family, with three generations of achievement-oriented women: a civil engineer (Lily), a music professor (Antonia) and a lab technician and student body leader (Maryana). A woman’s worth is measured in her diplomas, medals, ribbons and certificates of appreciation.

Housing arrangements
Lack of housing in urban areas was – and continues to be – a major issue. You still have multi-generational families stuffed into one-bedroom apartment. It’s not unusual to have two children and a grandmother in one bedroom, and the parents in the living-room on the couch. In some families, certain members sleep on the balcony, in the hallway or in the kitchen. So home was not a place where you would want to spend too much of your time without tripping over other members. It’s a place to change your clothes, grab something quick to eat and spend the night. So if you don’t have the physical infrastructure for a home, it makes sense that you don’t have this religion around domesticity either.

Attitude towards Americans
By 1986 when the novel takes place nobody really feared that Americans were going to drop a nuclear bomb on Moscow. The Cold War was pretty much over. Still, there was a fair amount of antagonism towards American economic and social values, or at least what Soviets perceived them to be. I find it fascinating how Americans talk about the proverbial Anglo-Saxon work ethic, yet for a long time they were portrayed as fat and idle in Soviet media. Being married to one of those “capitalist fat cats” was probably the most demeaning position a woman could fathom.

Sexual agency
Soviet culture actually encouraged prudishness for men and women. The housing crisis and lack of privacy played into that doctrine nicely. Boys were taught that girls are “comrades first and foremost”, working towards the shared goal of making the Soviet Union an industrial and military leader. A model citizen was not to be overly interested in pleasures of the flesh. Until the 1990s premarital sex was frowned upon as an “extreme sport”. Adultery conviction could mean job loss. Having a colorful sex life was something “fat American housewives” did.

About Marina Julia Neary12274343_10154343296021978_2189503503859888400_n

A self-centered, only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary spent her early years in Eastern Europe and came to the US at the age of thirteen. Her literary career revolves around depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade, to the Irish Famine, to the Easter Rising in Dublin, to the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl some thirty miles away from her home town. Notorious for her abrasive personality and politically incorrect views that make her a persona non grata in most polite circles, Neary explores human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

Her debut thriller Wynfield’s Kingdom was featured on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. After writing a series of novels dealing with the Anglo-Irish conflict, she takes a break from the slums of London and the gunpowder-filled streets of Dublin to delve into the picturesque radioactive swamps of her native Belarus. Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy is a deliciously offensive autobiographical satire featuring sex scandals of Eastern Europe’s artistic elite in the face of political upheavals.

Don’t miss her acclaimed debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom (2009, Fireship Press).

Connect with Marina: Website | Facebook

Links to Irish books: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian | Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916  Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels

Giveaway

Enter to win a Amazon gift copy of Saved by the Bang. Open to US residents only. Ends 1/12/16.
ENTRY-FORM

Saved by the Bang by Marina Julia Neary, published by Penmore Press LLC (December 8, 2015)

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Filed under 2016, Guest Post, January, Nonfiction, Review

First Book Of The Year 2016

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First Book Of The Year 2016

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About Saved by the Bang

Welcome to 1980s Belarus, where Polish denim is the currency, “kike” is a pedestrian endearment, and second trimester abortion can be procured for a box of chocolates. Antonia Olenski, PhD, a catty half-Jewish pianist and leading cock tease of the Gomel Music Academy, wavers between her flamboyant composer husband Joseph and a chivalrous tenor Nicholas. The Chernobyl disaster breaks up the love triangle, forcing Antonia into evacuation in the cumbersome company of her ugly eight-year old daughter Maryana. After a summer of cruising through Crimean sanatoriums and flirting with Afghan veterans, Antonia starts pining for the intrigues and scandals of the Academy. When the queen of cats finally returns home, she finds that another woman is wearing her crown. In the afterglow of nuclear fallout, artistic, ethnic and sexual rivalries emerge. How far will Antonia go to reclaim her throne?

Why Saved by the Bang

I appreciate Marina’s smart solid writing and content.  I’m curious to read this particular book sinply because it’s not my usual go to – satire, dystopian, historical, plus it’s loosely biographical, needless to say my interest is piqued. No better way to start 2016 by expanding my reading background with an extremely talented authoress.

About Marina Julia Neary12274343_10154343296021978_2189503503859888400_n

A self-centered, only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary spent her early years in Eastern Europe and came to the US at the age of thirteen. Her literary career revolves around depicting military and social disasters, from the Charge of the Light Brigade, to the Irish Famine, to the Easter Rising in Dublin, to the nuclear explosion in Chernobyl some thirty miles away from her home town. Notorious for her abrasive personality and politically incorrect views that make her a persona non grata in most polite circles, Neary explores human suffering through the prism of dark humor, believing that tragedy and comedy go hand in hand.

Her debut thriller Wynfield’s Kingdom was featured on the cover of the First Edition Magazine in the UK and earned the praise of the Neo-Victorian Studies Journal. After writing a series of novels dealing with the Anglo-Irish conflict, she takes a break from the slums of London and the gunpowder-filled streets of Dublin to delve into the picturesque radioactive swamps of her native Belarus. Saved by the Bang: a Nuclear Comedy is a deliciously offensive autobiographical satire featuring sex scandals of Eastern Europe’s artistic elite in the face of political upheavals.

Don’t miss her acclaimed debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom (2009, Fireship Press).

Connect with Marina: Website | Facebook

Links to Irish books: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian | Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916  Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels

 

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Filed under 2016, January, Nonfiction

Review & Giveaway: Martyrs and Traitors: A Tale of 1916 by Marina Julia Neary

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About Martyrs and Traitors: A Tale of 1916

Dublin, Good Friday, 1916

Kidnapped and held at gunpoint by his former IRB comrades, Bulmer Hobson, the misunderstood antihero of 1916, denounces the ill-fated Easter Rising he had tried to prevent. While his captors joke about shooting him and dumping his body on the railroad tracks, his terrified fiancee roams the chaos-ravaged city
in search of him. Fifteen years of political rivalry, international conspiracy, botched love affairs, and taunting promises of glory culminate in a bloody showdown. Once branded ‘the most dangerous man in Ireland’ by the police, Hobson is about to be deleted from history.

Based on historical accounts, Martyrs and Traitors is an intimate glance into the conflicted and shattered heart of Ireland’s discredited patriot.

My Review

It was a privilege to read this book, the reasons are numerous, I will say this is one of the best historical fiction books I have read this year. I will be reading all of Marina’s books that’s how much of an impression this authoress made.

Marina’s writing is evenly exquisite and assured. She has an unmistakable gift for dialogue. Her narrative comes alive, you feel as if you are watching a play, not surprising since Marina is well versed in theater. She also masters Irish brogue expertly. The laborious research is more than obvious, details are evident as historical points merge with the perfect amount of creative, smart fiction. Irish nationalism fully exploited in an interesting and educational manner, not to mention the unfamiliar and unsung figurehead of Blumer Hobson.

Blumer Hobson serves as the main protagonist and what an outstanding job Marina provided with full on character development. Blumer possesses three dimensionality, you learn of the man not limited to his fierce yearning and passion along with pivotal role in the quest for Irish nationalism. Marina doesn’t limit her originality to Blumer, rather she expounds upon the various females playing a major part in Blumer’s life as well as the fight for Irish nationalism. Highlighting the historical women fighting with and alongside men added texture and interest to this already stellar narrative. Again, full characterization as the women portrayed reveal their strength, independence mixed with their passion and vulnerabilities. In fact passion plays a poignant part of the narrative, so much so allegiance and drive blinded those fighting for the cause inciting mutiny and division, a tunnel vision of sorts as Blumer became an iconic scapegoat.

Marina delivers a literary narrative visiting Irish nationalism, historical fiction fans craving a cerebral look into Irish history will savor this read. With all certitude Marina will open the gate to learn more of Ireland, its heroes/heroines and unsung heroes/heroines of historical times, their passion, courage and tenacity. Exceptional read from a deft authoress.

About Marina Julia Neary1935492_301177716977_2312613_n

A self-centered only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary grew up in a picturesque radioactive Gomel, just a stone throw away from Chernobyl, and came to the US on a refugee visa. Glowing personality. Nuclear ego. Explosive libido. Toxic sense of humor. A few of her favorite things include historical novels, cats, guns, Orthodox icons and Yankee dollars. During the day she works in foreign exchange. On her spare time she goes to cat shows, rock concerts and pro-life marches. An eloquent and sarcastic ultra-conservative voice, she loves to aggravate humorless liberals. Her literary work revolves around Neo-Victorianism, French Romanticism and Irish nationalism.

Don’t miss her acclaimed debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom (2009, Fireship Press).

Connect with Marina: Website | Facebook

Links to Irish books: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian | Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916  Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels

Giveaway

Enter to win a digital copy of Martyrs and Traitors: A Tale of 1916 by Marina Julia Neary, please complete the giveaway form below. Open internationally. Ends 11/20/15
ENTRY-FORM

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, November, Review

Guest Post & Giveaway: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian by Marina Julia Neary

1935492_301177716977_2312613_n A self-centered only child of classical musicians, Marina Julia Neary grew up in a picturesque radioactive Gomel, just a stone throw away from Chernobyl, and came to the US on a refugee visa. Glowing personality. Nuclear ego. Explosive libido. Toxic sense of humor. A few of her favorite things include historical novels, cats, guns, Orthodox icons and Yankee dollars. During the day she works in foreign exchange. On her spare time she goes to cat shows, rock concerts and pro-life marches. An eloquent and sarcastic ultra-conservative voice, she loves to aggravate humorless liberals. Her literary work revolves around Neo-Victorianism, French Romanticism and Irish nationalism. Don’t miss her acclaimed debut novel Wynfield’s Kingdom (2009, Fireship Press).

Connect with Marina: Website | Facebook

Links to Irish books: Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian | Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916  Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels

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Guest Post

In today’s world there are very few topics that are still considered taboo. One of them is questioning the unconditional nature of parental love. It’s just something you don’t bring up in polite society. While most parents who find themselves loving one child more than another are too embarrassed to verbalize their feelings, they don’t have a problem showing it in every way possible. It’s fascinating how parents will find creative roundabout ways to explain why they treat their children differently, from “Katie was a high-maintenance baby” to “Susie takes after her father”, but they will always augment the explanation with the defensive statement, “But I still love them the same, and I would die for either one of them.” If you omit that last statement, you put yourself at risk of being crucified.

In my creative life – as well as my daily life – I like to push the limits of decorum. I remember being thrown out of a Mommy group for openly admitting that I didn’t feel guilty about leaving my baby in daycare, and no my heart was not breaking from the thought of some “strange woman seeing his first smile”. I could tell that other mothers were horrified by my absence of Mommy guilt and more so by my candor. The moderator politely suggested that I should find another social network for myself as my disturbing and insensitive comments were not meshing well with the culture of the group. Interestingly, some moms e-mailed me later on and expressed their admiration. Clearly, they were too chicken to show their support in public. Just for the record, they didn’t end up becoming my friends. I have no time for people who are too chicken to stand by me in the open. I am not going to become another soccer mom’s guilty pleasure, the kind of friend you keep behind closed doors.

I am grateful for that episode because it encouraged me to go back to an early draft of a historical novel that I wrote in college. Set in Ireland in the turbulent decade leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916, the novel tackles another taboo topic – favoring one child over another, especially when there are ethnic and religious factors involved. Meet Brendan Malone, a handsome Irish landlord in his prime and a member of the Fenian Brotherhood, a secret oath-bound nationalist organization. He has two sons less than a year apart, recent graduates from the University College Dublin. Dylan, the eldest, is a Celtic titan – gorgeous and physically developed, though intellectually superficial and juvenile. Hugh, the youngest, is sickly bookworm, secretive and sardonic. Still, it’s not Hugh’s physical weakness that makes him less than an ideal son for Brendan – it’s his ambiguous political loyalties. Brendan has good reasons to suspect that Hugh is not committed to fighting for Ireland’s freedom alongside his brother. What can be worse for an Irish nationalist than having a traitor for a son? When Brendan takes his boys on an excursion to a the shrine of Lawrence O’Toole, the patron saint of the Fenian Brotherhood, certain secrets come to light, and Brendan’s suspicions are confirmed. What does a father do when his children end up on the opposite sides of the barricade? What do you do when your child is your political and ideological enemy?

The novel Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian was completed in 2010 and accepted for publication by All Things That Matter Press. The outpour of positive feedback from the the readers who enjoy Irish history prompted me to write two more books in the series Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916 and Never Be at Peace: a Novel of Irish Rebels.

After much nagging, I ended up writing a theatrical adaptation of The Last Fenian. I had to dramatically reduce the head count to 5, leaving just the father, his two sons and the two female love interests. This past August a theatrical adaptation of the play was filmed for PBS in Greenwich, CT. It was an absolute pleasure to work with the cast if talented actors from New York. We were able to film everything in one day. Every time I get involved in a theatrical production, there are those episodes of weakness and defeatism, when I ask myself, “Why, why do I put myself through all this stress?” But in the end it all ends up working out, and the final product makes you forget the stress.
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About Brendan Malone: The Last Fenianimage

Based on true historical events, “Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian” is a folkloric satire examining the dark, destructive side of paternal love. Roscommon, Ireland-1910. A string of crop failures and botched rebellions had left the country a pitiful wasteland. Brendan Malone, a struggling Gaelic landlord and memberof the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood, succumbs to a midlife flare-up of nationalism, while his two sons climb the academic Olympus at University College Dublin. Dylan, primitive and compliant, clings to his overbearing father, while Hugh, anglicized beyond recognition, harbors his own ambitions that do not include liberating his native land.

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Brendan Malone: The Last Fenian by Marina J. Neary, please complete the giveaway form below. Open internationally. Ends 10/29/15 ENTRY-FORM

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Filed under 2015, Fiction, Guest Post, October