cover image 1999: A Novel of the Celtic Tiger and the Search for Peace

1999: A Novel of the Celtic Tiger and the Search for Peace

Morgan Llywelyn, . . Forge, $24.95 (399pp) ISBN 978-0-312-87849-8

In Llywelyn's fifth and final installment in the Irish Century series, she offers a fastidious take on “The Troubles,” weaving facts and historical figures with the fictitious lives of a former IRA soldier, his American-born wife and his resolute republican mother. Photojournalist Barry Halloran, formerly an IRA “Volunteer,” races from the aftermath of Bloody Sunday to Dublin, where he seeks the guidance of his training officer, Seamus McCoy. Concerned that the sickly Seamus wants to return to active service, Barry spontaneously proposes to his mercurial lover, Barbara, in order to detain Seamus as his best man for his wedding. After the wedding, Barbara turns into something of a shrew and Barry's career begins to take off—providing a convenient device to document the escalating conflict. Not even Seamus's imprisonment or the crippling of Barry's mother by a car bomb deters him from faithfully capturing “The Troubles” on film. Though Llywelyn is meticulous in cataloguing the wartime atrocities committed by both sides, the narrative lacks a driving force and loses steam in covering the myriad skirmishes and failed peace talks. Readers familiar with the previous volumes will enjoy this the most; the uninitiated may have trouble. (Feb.)