cover image Redemption


Leon Uris. HarperCollins Publishers, $25 (827pp) ISBN 978-0-06-018333-2

Nearly 20 years after Trinity, his bestselling chronicle of the Irish struggle against British rule during the latter half of the 19th century, Uris returns to the Emerald Isle with a story set during the WWI years. The conflict between two of the three dominant families of Trinity, the tempestuous Larkins and their staid British counterparts, the Hubbles, is the focus here. Uris begins by tracing the Larkin legacy from patriarch Liam's exile to New Zealand, where he becomes squire of a sheep farm; his brother, Conor, becomes a legendary Irish revolutionary. Another Larkin progeny, Liam's son Rory, is acclaimed as a war hero after fighting with the British at Gallipoli, while Rory's brother Dary takes Catholic clerical vows, only to have a powerful love drive him to question both celibacy and his calling. Uris balances the struggles of the Larkins with the more repressed travails of Caroline Hubble, who battles the efforts of her husband to oppress the Irish after losing a pair of sons in the disastrous British battle against the Turks. Sprinkled in as well are several tumultuous marriages and affairs of the heart that introduce a variety of powerful female characters. Tying all together is the voice of Winston Churchill, passages from material based on unpublished Churchill files that provide historical backdrop for the day-to-day events. The first half of the novel is a bit scattered, largely because Uris introduces so many characters so quickly that the Irish struggle against the British tends to get lost. But once he gets all his major characters into battle in WWI, the narrative clips along, with the stirring account of the Battle of Gallipoli, as well as tales of betrayal and assassination prior to the Easter uprising, rivaling the best of his earlier work. Few writers who have tackled the Troubles have exhibited the scope or the organizational skills Uris demonstrates here. 350,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/ promo; Literary Guild main selection; author tour. (June)