NOVEL: After The Rising – The Irish Trilogy 1

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“One is immersed in this epic story immediately and effortlessly… The main characters are so well-drawn that you feel you have heard about them in your own life.” – The Evening Herald

A death in the present—a killing in the past.

After twenty years away, Jo Devereux flies home to Ireland for her mother's funeral — the mother she hasn't spoken to for more than two decades. Every minute there reminds her of all the reasons she left and she has no desire to reacquaint herself with her home village. Or with Rory O'Donovan, her lost love.

Then, she reads her mother's will. Her inheritance is a chest full of letters and journals, written by her grandmother and great-aunt, that answer a long held secret. Who murdered her great-uncle in the Irish Civil War.. and why?  How did what an uprising for Irish freedom and independence degenerate into a bitter civil war where neighbor turned against neighbor, and family against family– leaving a legacy of lies, secrets, and silences for generations to come?

As Jo unearths the bitter, buried history she shares with Rory she finally understands why their love was doomed from the start. But what about now? Can she stay true to both her heart and her heritage? She knows from her own life how the wild energy of rebellion can carry someone away… but what happens after the rising?

A sweeping, multigenerational tale set in the 1920s and 1990s Ireland and 1980s San Francisco. This is the first book in Orna Ross's Irish Trilogy, followed by Before the Fall.

You can buy both books together in a 2-for-1 special, After The Rising & Before the Fall

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21 reviews for NOVEL: After The Rising – The Irish Trilogy 1

  1. M Winlv

    Timely fiction filling in real history

    The title After the Rising crew me in as I knew that I didn’t know much about this period. As an Irish-American I am fascinated by the Rising but confused about the Aftermath. For many of us swept up in 1916 it is hard to fathom 1922. This book helped me see this terrible period and feel the difficulties that in many ways continue to this day. ThAnk you Ms. Ross for this story.

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  2. Gwenda Sutton

    Loved this book

    I enjoyed this book so much and am looking forward to starting the next one in this trilogy. I loved going back and forth through the three time periods and seeing how they linked up. The history and the early political situation was well written and easy to understand and the characters all very believable. A great read.

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  3. Mary Upton

    What It Means To be Irish

    After the Rising, sweeps the reader into a story which encapsulates the essential irishness of Ireland. The characters bring an immediacy of connection.; warm, human, many layered and at times, harsh. The story unfolds in a landscape drenched in history and extraordinary beauty. I longed to be there, walking on the deserted and wild beaches, savouring a Guiness in a local bar, while tapping a foot and soaking up the craic. Orna Ross does not shy away from the heart break and sadness which permeates Ireland’s history and how the scars continue to reverberate through relationships and political divisions, to this day.
    My only negative observation is that I found the weaving of history somewhat difficult, particulrly reading on Kindle. With a book it is easier to flip back to check on names etc. Despite this, I will remember this book and it’s fascinating characters for many a year.

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  4. Cas

    An engaging story

    Very well written story of feuding families caught in the Irish rising. Excellent characters who are thoroughly believable. Issues such as abortion and other social taboos in Ireland at the time add to the drama. I would give this five stars, but it is a little slow and if you cannot read it in a short space of time, it is easy to forget what was going on when you left off. However, I thoroughly recommend it to serious readers.

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  5. Lucy

    Atmospheric Ireland

    Nicely written and atmospheric… Very enjoyable.

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  6. Phil and Raine

    A wonderful book to savour and enjoy

    Every once in a while a book comes along, which offers both beauty, as well as entertainment, this is such a book. The narrative style and viewpoint change throughout the story and what might seem confusing in the beginning, quickly gives way to a rich tapestry of carefully developed intricacies, which sweep you along with a raw passion. There is a great deal of truth in this work and at times I had to keep reminding myself that it was a work of fiction and not a memoir, the writing really is this personal, in depth and in emotional content. The time periods are captured perfectly and the characters interesting and real. A Great book.

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  7. Joan Fallon

    Betrayal, murder and lost friendships

    Ms Ross is a very perceptive writer, who has gone straight to the heart of small town mentality in this fascinating story of a young woman who returns to her home town in Ireland after living in the USA. It’s a town that was split between two opposing factions over Irish independence and, as in a civil war, families were divided. The resentment over past betrayals and treachery still lingers as Jo tries to come to terms with events that shaped her life in a way she did not want. But she was one of the lucky ones, unlike her mother and her aunt. At times it was like reading an Irish Romeo and Juliet, because loving someone from the wrong family was never going to work. I enjoyed this book very much. The prose was lyrical and the characters were very believable. I look forward to reading more of Ms Ross’s books.

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  8. Squeaky Joe

    Fantastically talented writer.

    Returning to her native Ireland for her mother’s funeral, Jo Devereux is thrown back into the long-standing conflict between Rory O’Donovan’s family and her own. Reaching into the past, Jo begins to examine what it was that drew her to Rory all those years ago, but more importantly, what tore them apart. Letters and diaries from her own mother and grandmother, uncover unsettling truths about the two families and their roles in the conflict known as ‘The War of The Brothers’…

    This is one of those books that got me at the first page. Unlike some novels set in different periods, the transitions back and forth from one to another are beautifully done and there are no inconsistencies in the narrative. The two sections work together to create a complete history of its characters’ stories, presenting a very believable tale of war and domestic life that is not only historically relevant, but often highly emotive and thought-provoking. The usual backstabbing between Catholics and Protestants takes a back seat and instead, Orna Ross tells a story that focuses on the people, the families and the conflicts that wrenched a nation apart.

    Orna Ross is a fantastically talented writer and one I’ll be coming back to very soon.

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  9. Amazon customer

    Herstory, the history of the land told through the voices of its women

    “If you have not seen the day of Revolution in a small town where all know all in the town and always have known all, you have seen nothing.” — Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Scribner Classics, 1996. p. 106.

    Though partially of Irish stock, I confess to scant knowledge of the Emerald Isle’s history apart from the dates of the 1916 Easter Rising and the gaining of Independence in 1922. So Orna Ross’s After the Rising was a compelling introduction, not least because the beguiling lilt of her prose situates one sure-footedly in a deceptively sleepy burg beyond the Irish Sea. Using various first-person narrative voices in the form of letters and diaries, the novel moves between the events of 1922, the 60s and 70s when the predominant narrator is at school and university, and 1995, when she returns to her village for her mother’s funeral and to confront the family’s history, rent by national politics and local rancour. Such a weaving back and forth between periods allows for an overview of the novel’s historical reach, reminding readers that today’s fervent youth will be but a dusty phrase in tomorrow’s history books.

    If I was surprised to find little overt description of the divide between Catholics and Protestants, which I had always thought central to Ireland’s history, this is perhaps more of a comment on my ignorance about the conflict. Sectarian undertones are clearly present, but Ross prefers to filter the narrative through the gossip, grudges and friendships of the fictitious village of Mucknamore, where tribal identities and ingrained prejudices score more deeply into villagers’ lives than religion does. Generational hatreds feel bitterly yet bewildering personal as they are wont to become in small communities. In this, both Ross and Hemingway are on the nail.

    Most importantly, this is herstory, the history of the land told through the voices of its women. As such it comes closer to the grain of what the struggle was all about. While all conflicts have their economic and political elements, I believe they tend fundamentally to be about cultural identity (though Marx might disagree): the ‘us’ and the ‘other’. The impression I got was that while the fight for a free Ireland was paramount, cultural identity politics were also of prime importance in deciding what flavour of an independent Eire was sought. The denouement happily expresses a loosening of some of these most fiercely held views, enabling the hope for a more tolerant future to creep in.

    After the Rising is part of Ross’s Irish Trilogy, of which the next book, Before the Fall, will soon be completed by In the Hour.

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  10. TrickyHenri

    One of my favourite books of the year.

    Exquisite writing, intricately interwoven story. I finished wanting more. Thank goodness there is a sequel.

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  11. Shaun Ivory

    This author's star is also rising!

    Deserves her great reputation. Wish I’d written it! As a writer of similar period I feel it encapsulates all you need to know about Ireland then. Recommend.

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  12. Debbie

    Moving and memorabl novel about the impact of modern Irish history on individuals

    This beautifully written literary novel describes the impact of the 1916 Irish Rising against British rule in a complex plot across several time frames. Jo Devereux, returning to Wexford for her mother’s funeral after 20 years of self-imposed exile abroad, is tasked to write the family history from a suitcase of old letters and diaries. Slowly Jo unravels family secrets that tore her country and community apart in the 1920s, explaining the bitter rift between her family and that of her first love, Rory. The process helps her come to terms with the crisis in her own life and to move on.

    No history book could reveal with as much compassion the impact of the Irish conflict on successive generations. Although the novel explains the political background subtly and effectively, its greatest power is to convey the human suffering of individuals: lovers and soul-mates parted by political enmity, parents torn apart by the loss of their children dying for the cause, siblings who should have been each other’s comforters turned into strangers.

    This expertly crafted novel is an important work in terms of Irish social history, but it will also be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates intelligent and profound family sagas that make the reader count his own blessings.

    The first in a trilogy, this book is professionally produced. My only quibble is with the cover, which, although elegant, is too obscure. The image of an anonymous hand rising above a wave, with no reference to the wider themes of the book, just made me think of Stevie Smith’s poem about suicide, “Not Waving But Drowning”. Without at least a subtitle referring to the Irish themes to engage appropriate readers, it will be harder for this novel to earn the place it deserves as a modern classic on 20th century Irish social history.

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this novel to review for the Historical Novel Society, on whose website the above review originally appeared.

  13. LindyLouMac

    Flowing and Expressive.

    This novel was Orna Ross’s début, originally published with the sequel as ‘Lovers’ Hollow’ by Penguin in 2006. The title has recently been reissued by the author. It is the first time I have read anything by Orna Ross and I feel very guilty that it has taken me so long to read and review ‘After The Rising’ and the sequel ‘Before The Fall’ which I read immediately after this one, so will publish the reviews simultaneously. The author was kind enough to provide copies for My Kindle via Amazon a long time ago. A problem I do find with eBooks is that they can easily get lost amongst the many other titles, a case of out of sight out of mind! I must be more careful in future.
    The titles mentioned are I and II of an Irish Trilogy and I will certainly be hoping to read the final volume one day, I learnt so much about Irish history following the trials and tribulations of the Mucknamore families.

    What a wonderful name for a village, Mucknamore, a fictional village set in the Wexford countryside of Ireland, but the events that took place were real events in Ireland’s history. The female protagonist is Jo Devereux who has returned home to Ireland after twenty years away to attend her mother’s funeral. Through dealing with her mother’s affairs after her death, she finds herself coming into contact with Rory O’Donovan, a man she had a teenage love affair with. Probably the only man she ever truly loved but he is now married. A conflict between their families split them up and she fled to the USA.
    Now though back in Ireland reading the family history that her mother has left to Jo, she discovers some surprising truths about her mother and grandmother. She learns about the role of the women in the Irish Civil War of 1923 and about a mysterious incident involving the death of Rory’s uncle in the same war. It is these events that have caused on going conflict between the families continuing with each new generation. Probing for the truth Jo is astonished by the similarity to her own life where she has endeavoured to balance love and freedom. What will happen between her and Rory, if anything and how will learning about the past impinge upon her decisions? If you want to find out you will have to read the book.

    Written in a flowing expressive style this story left me knowing more than I did about Irish history and looking forward to reading the third title in the trilogy, recommended to fans of historical fiction.

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  14. Nicky Guthrie

    Quite simply the best book I've read in a very long time

    This book is made up of a blend of intellectual and emotional ingredients that are enormously satisfying to get yourself around. It is both educational and passionate, clear and yet teasing, spanning three generations with ease and elasticity. I could not put it down and was frantic to get hold of the sequel. What can I say except that I highly recommend you to read this book!

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  15. ARCubitt

    A multi-generational story for our time

    After the Rising is a part coming of age story, part historical novel, dealing as it does with the Irish Civil War in the 1920s. Told from the point of view of Jo Devereux in the present and the letters, diaries and journals of her female relatives filling in the narrative in the 1920s, it is an ambitious, epic of a novel.

    Jo is charged with writing the family history over the three generations but when she gradually uncovers the secrets of the past she is confronted by the knowledge that she too is as much part of the story as the earlier generations and so can scarcely be objective. No wonder she struggles with writer’s block…..
    I don’t have anyone left alive now to ask about the impact of the Irish Civil War on my own family as by then both of my Irish great uncles had already been killed in the First World War. And so After the Rising is an important book for me as it goes some way towards explaining what the conflict meant to ordinary people. Families who might have lived amicably, side by side were torn apart because of their politics and the repercussions felt down the generations.
    The characters in this book are so vivid that they seem to leap off the page and that is, I think, due to the ear for language and idiom.

    After the Rising is beautifully written with carefully chosen words that are as precise as the word selection in a poem. I particularly admired the description of the sea in this sentence: ‘For weeks they’d had an east wind with the waves hurrying to the shore with veils of spray blown back, like an army of angry brides.’
    The other aspect of After the Rising that really resonated with me was Jo’s experience at convent boarding school. I’ve done my best to forget mine but the passages that describe the relentless routine brought it all back. Like Jo, I too had to ‘go to one of the secret places I have hunted down,’ just to get some privacy.

    I found After the Rising at times tragic at times funny, witty and warm.

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  16. sue hockey

    again - lest we forget!

    It was a very true account of the terrible and wicked way that beautiful people were treated. It’s good for us all to read something like this to make us appreciate what others have had to endure in the past.

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  17. ElaineG

    absorbing read

    Jo Devereaux returns to Ireland for the first time in 20 years to attend her mother’s funeral. She is entrusted with a suitcase containing 70 year old letters and diaries belonging to her grandmother which tell the story of her family’s involvement with the freedom movement of the 1920s. Jo’s task is to put pen to paper and write the story, a story of love and revenge which could hold the key as to why the Parle/Devereaux and O’Donovan families, who were once so close have hated each other with a passion for the last 70 years.

    What follows is a haunting, gripping tale, extremely well written of the freedom fights of the 1920s, but mainly from the perspective of the women who played a key role in the struggles, which makes a refreshing change from the usual male orientated books about the Irish struggles that are available. All this is intertwined with Jo’s life story told in flashback and especially her teenage relationship with Rory O’Donovan which, because of their families’ animosity, seemed doomed from the start.

    I was glad to see that there is a sequel, as the book does seem to finish with some questions left tantalisingly unanswered and I can’t wait to find out more.

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  18. Susanne

    Beautifully written

    I picked up both books in this series when they were free for a short while on Kindle. It is a beautifully, so well written story of love on so many levels. Orna Ross has a knack for getting the characters under your skin. It tells the Story of Jo who returns to her native Ireland after 20 years’ absence – and slowly tells us why she had to leave. Jo delves into her family history and thus the story also takes us back a couple of generations to the 1020s and the War of Independence, which interlinks with the present. The prose is beautiful and the characterisation just wonderful. I know very little about Irish history, and only know what’s happened in the last 30 years or so, but won’t go into my views on it here. Whatever the politics, the story is gripping and beautifully told and I’m looking forward to starting the sequel.

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  19. Leila Smith

    The sinking sands of Coolanagh

    Orna Ross has written a masterpiece and in this age of exaggeration and hyperbole I hope I can convey just how exceptional is her book After The Rising.

    There is not a spare word nor a trite phrase anywhere in this book – the prose is absolutely gorgeous.

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  20. Kindle customer

    Ambitious and enthralling

    There are so many reasons to recommend this book. It’s an engrossing page-turner of a family saga, covering three generations. It’s a poignant and unusual love story. The characters are complex, believable, sometimes heartbreaking. If like me you’re woefully ignorant of Irish history, AFTER THE RISING will fill some gaps in your knowledge (though the novel pulls no punches showing the horrors of civil war and the destruction of families and communities.)

    But mainly I recommend this novel for the quality of the writing: the musical cadences of the Irish dialogue; the author’s ability to combine the horrific and the hilarious (as in the heartrending section about a convent education); the finely detailed observation of speech and gesture that lend the book an emotional authenticity that’s both moving and memorable.

    The scope of this book – historical, political and emotional – is hugely ambitious, but it’s full of heart and hugely entertaining. The sequel (BEFORE THE FALL) is already downloaded onto my Kindle.

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  21. Dianne Ascroft

    Past and Present Rolled Into A Great Story

    I enjoyed After The Rising immensely. From the opening pages I was drawn into the story and quickly became engrossed in it. Set in Ireland, in the present and also in the 1920s, it’s a modern and an historical fiction rolled into one.

    I easily slipped into the modern thread of the story as the main character, Jo, uncovered the secrets in her family history and grappled with her own past. But it was the historical thread that really grabbed me. The characters’ conflicts brought home to me the emotional impact of the Irish Civil War. Friends and communities were pulled apart as they took sides in the political strife and I felt that turmoil through the characters’ struggles.

    The complexity of human relationships is at the heart of this story. I avidly followed the characters’ journeys as they experienced love, grief, courage and pain. When the book ended I wanted to know what happened next to each of them, as if they were real people. Luckily for me there’s a sequel due to be released soon – I’m looking forward to it!

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