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141 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Book Club Should Read This Book
Synopsis:

Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s, the story of The Yellow House centers around Eileen O'Neill as she grows up during a turbulent time in Ireland's history. Spanning 20 years, the story picks up during her childhood, as the family falls into poverty and tragedy sets the tone for Eileen's struggles. Working in a mill, in dangerous conditions,...
Published on February 18, 2010 by Melissa Pickett

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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never Really Grabs You
NO Spoilers

I was drawn to The Yellow House for its many good reviews and the fact that being of Irish descent, I usually enjoy all stories Irish, especially about the Troubles and immigration to America (see below for recommendations of this type). This novel, however, never fully engages the reader although the writing is well-done stylistically...
Published on June 30, 2011 by Page B


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141 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Book Club Should Read This Book, February 18, 2010
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This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
Synopsis:

Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s, the story of The Yellow House centers around Eileen O'Neill as she grows up during a turbulent time in Ireland's history. Spanning 20 years, the story picks up during her childhood, as the family falls into poverty and tragedy sets the tone for Eileen's struggles. Working in a mill, in dangerous conditions, she saves her money and dreams of reuniting her family in the home of her childhood, hoping to bring back happier times.

Along the way, she finds herself torn between two men, and torn by her own will and the will of others. Her family history and the current political landscape shape Eileen's journey, and secrets and betrayals leave their mark.

Analysis:

There are books that help you to pass the time, that entertain you, and that allow you to escape your ordinary life. Then, there are books that touch your soul. These books seep into your heart and your mind, so that, upon dragging yourself from its depths, you are surprised to find yourself in your own familiar surroundings. The Yellow House is such a book.

Falvey's gift to the reader is her rich, descriptive language. The setting of this book, Ulster, a province located in northern Ireland, is lavishly painted throughout the book. The characters come to life, vibrant and flawed, clinging to dreams and hopes. Falvey uses historic events to provide a dynamic and turbulent backdrop for the characters' stories and personalities to unfold. We see the affect of love and loss, of war and fighting, of betrayal and hatred, each in varying forms and degress, on the human spirit. Eileen, in particular, is molded and shaped through the storm of war and prejudice that engulfs her life. From starry-eyed child to wary, and weary, adult, Eileen's journey is a hard one.

Falvey takes us on that journey, perhaps to show us that Eileen's tenacity and fire is vital to her survival, and to encourage us to remember that in our own journeys. We love with Eileen, we cry with her as she suffers loss and humiliation. We feel indignation on her behalf over the injustices she bears, and cringe at her fiery temper. We worry as we foresee possible repercussions of her actions and decisions, and we hope that all will right itself in the end. And in the end, we the reader leave this book remembering what it means to hope and to sacrifice. Falvey teaches us that living for a dream can sustain us through the toughest of days, and that a dream gives us a reason to keep fighting.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A colorful look at the history of the Irish troubles, February 17, 2010
This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
There's an unapologetically strong Nationalist/Republican slant in Patricia Falvey's story of the revolutionary years in Ireland that might not be to everyone's taste. Taking in the 1916 Rebellion and the political and social turmoil in the subsequent years leading up to the formation of the Irish Republic and the partition of Northern Ireland, with a few explanatory history passages at relevant points, the novel certainly seems like it has an eye on the Irish-American market, but there's also an involving human story to The Yellow House that has a ring of truth to it, making it more relevant and appealing to a wider readership.

The emphasis is certainly however on the suffering of decent, hard-working poor oppressed Catholics, represented here by Eileen O'Neill, a young woman who has seen her mother and father and their glorious yellow painted house in Glenlea, Co. Armagh fall victim to the prejudice and hatred of a bigoted Protestant population, everyone of them hard, dour and authoritarian, acting out of bitterness and fear of what Home Rule might bring. Eileen has to grow up quick, finding herself work in a local mill in order to look after herself and her younger brother, but events lead Eileen to take up arms in the struggle against an unjust society ruled by Protestants who keep the Catholics in their place as second-class citizens.

Almost inevitably, the struggle is characterised in romantic as well as political terms, Eileen, even as she joins the Irish Volunteers, finding her feelings torn between the handsome mill owner's son Owen Sheridan, who has returned from the Great War believing that violence isn't the answer, and James Conlon, a fervent follower of Michael Collins, who appeals to the rebellious side of the young woman's nature and her pride in her heritage. In this context, Eileen's determination to restore the Yellow House of her happy childhood and reunite her broken family becomes a personal aspiration that drives her onward, as well as being a strong metaphor for the past that has been lost and which may never again be fully restored to the way it was.

One could question the point of bringing up the bitter history of an old conflict that should no longer be relevant in a new progressive and peaceful modern-day Ulster that has apparently moved on considerably from the old ways. While the characters depicted here are recognisably those of previous generations in the north of Ireland however, you don't have to look too deeply past recent headlines to see that the same prejudices and fears remain in the attitudes of the current generation and the politicians who represent them. It's admirable then that Patricia Falvey doesn't feel the need to present a balanced, politically correct, revisionist view of the past, and The Yellow House is all the more readable for it.

As highly-dramatic and as one-sided as the storyline might be towards Nationalist aspirations, there is nevertheless a definite authenticity to the historical setting, to the characterisation of the people of Ulster - both Protestant and Catholic - with a good ear for local turns of phrase and the attitudes that lie beneath them. This strong characterisation and the mostly authentic dialogue succeeds in bringing the past to life with a good balance between romance, local color and historical drama.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never Really Grabs You, June 30, 2011
NO Spoilers

I was drawn to The Yellow House for its many good reviews and the fact that being of Irish descent, I usually enjoy all stories Irish, especially about the Troubles and immigration to America (see below for recommendations of this type). This novel, however, never fully engages the reader although the writing is well-done stylistically.

Eileen, the main character, is realistic as a flawed character and admirable for her courage, tenacity, and grit. A drawback to her character is that there's no real fluctuations to her character; she's the same throughout and too constant, which, for this reader, is boring. The men in her life are radical extremes, and the love story is not hard to figure out.

The ending, as some reviews have mentioned, is too "neat." Not that I was wishing for tragedy or an unhappy ending for the protagonist, I just don't find the ending provided to be realistic. You have characters who have stolen the happiness of others closing the novel being suddenly concerned for the welfare and happiness of those whom they originally harmed with seemingly little remorse. Decisions such as this is where I was dissatisfied with the end.

The author has an excellent grasp of the history of the Troubles, but these are not at the forefront of the novel. She briskly summarizes the evolution of the conflicts in snippets throughout the novel. It is definitely Eileen's story, which is fine, except if you're reading it with the expectation that the action is going to be set in the heart of the Troubles. Eileen's participation in the raids is short-lived.

This would be an okay book club or beach read. If you're really looking for a novel about the Troubles that has both action and a look at relationships during this time, then I strongly recommend The House of Splendid Isolation by Edna O'Brien and Mary Pat Kelly's Galway Bay for a more epic story on the famine and journey to America.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Yellow House, March 19, 2010
This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
As an artist I was drawn to this book by the beautiful cover and the title. I'm always looking for one of those special books that catch you by surprise. When I read the story line I was hooked and ordered it right away. It arrived in time for me to start reading on St. Patrick's Day. I could have sped through it fast, it's that kind of book, one you can't put down, but I decided to read it at a more leisurely pace in order to savor every word. I just finished reading it tonight. What a beautiful story, sad yet sweet, one that brings hope in spite of all, a reminder that love survives. This debut novel is a gem, a keeper, a story that will stay with you a long time to come. I'm anxious to read future novels by this wonderful new author.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars charming, but predictable, August 8, 2010
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Toni Corbett (Carmichael, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
I enjoyed the Irish setting and language as well as gaining an understanding of the difficultires in Ireland. However, the author failed to make the main character likeable. It's one thing to portray a woman as having a stubborn temper, but somewhere along the line, I began to dislike her as she took more and more advantage of her best friend - leaving her to care for her child, and the son of the linen mill, the father of her child. I have already given the book away and it was forgettable enough that I now can't remember the characters' names. I would place this in the "beach" read category. It was not what I was led to believe from the "write-up".
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Yellow House, March 2, 2010
This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was drawn to this book as it was set in Ireland where my Dad's family is from and I love to read stories set in Ireland. This book did not disappoint from start to end, the only disappointment was that it ended. It's set in Ireland during a time of conflict and times are hard. Eileen O'Neill is the main character and she's got spirit, determination and a strong will. At an early age she learns of hardship and loss as well as betrayal. She loses her Mom to an insane asylum, her father is killed when their home is burned and she also loses her brother and her little sister. Her mother took her brother and left after losing the youngest child, Lizzie. One night they come and end up burning her house and killing her father, thus begins Eileen's journey. Eileen's family is Catholic and at that time, Catholics were not treated well in Ulster. She's determined to earn enough to get their "Yellow House" back and bring everyone home again. It's a moving story that reaches and touches your heart and stays with you. I think both sides were represented fairly and she does make you see both sides through Eileen's eyes. I am recommending it to the book groups I am in. I could not bear to put it down once I started, it was only till I fell asleep in my relcliner reading did I stop, only to pick up againw ith my morning coffee.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written!!, August 4, 2011
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The author has a way of writing so smoothly I could not put it down. Although this book is very historical, I was not the least bit bored or disinterested. In fact I fell in love with the key characters and assumed this life of poverty was very common among the poor at this time in history. The characters were perfect and I truly felt for the females in the novel and their roles in life. This is a must for women and would be an excellent book club choice.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Your heart holds on to dreams long after your head tells you they're foolish.", February 25, 2010
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This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
Occasionally an epic story comes along that makes the reader cry at the end of the novel. I am that reader, and The Yellow House is that novel. Spanning the early twentieth century, set in Northern Ireland during the time of the Irish revolution, we follow Eileen O'Neill, warrior, daughter, and sister as she slowly loses everything she loves but learns to rise again. Growing up at the base of her beloved mountain, Slieve Gullion, Eileen knows the terrors she dreams at night do not bode well for her family. When her younger sister dies of Scarlet Fever, her mother loses her mind in grief. When her Catholic father is killed defending their Yellow House from Protestant uprisers, Eileen must survive or perish in sadness. She stands upright as an O'Neill warrior and takes life by the horns.

Growing up in Ireland in the tumultuous 1900s, Eileen O'Neill joins the Cause for the rights of Catholics and all Irish citizens. In 1913 she takes a job working for the Quaker family, the Sheridan's, at their mill in Queensbrook; she also takes up the fiddle, following in her father's footsteps, and it is through these two positions that she meets Owen Sheridan, handsome, privileged, charming, rakish, and safe. When Owen goes to fight in World War 1 Eileen is left confused about her burgeoning feelings, not having ever loved, she doesn't know about Owen. And then she meets James; dark, dangerous, impassioned for the Cause, fighting for his beliefs, for freedom from persecution, for a better Ireland, and she falls for him.

Torn between her inner warrior and her outer womanhood, enveloped in a lost family and heritage, dreaming of the Yellow House and her beloved Slieve Gullion, Eileen is a girl who grows to a woman before our eyes, who marches from the ashes of her childhood and raises her arms in defiance. Trapped between two men, Eileen finds herself.

The Yellow House is a captivating debut, bountiful and beautifully written. The beginning trudges along, but Eileen will capture you quickly after. Her story will make you smile, make your heart pump, make your breath quicken, make you cry. You will hope for the best, and fear for the worst. You will laugh at Eileen and her anger and feistiness, she has a sailor's mouth and the temper to go with it. You will feel her heartbreak and her desire, you will know her anguish and rapturous delight, you will relate to her because she is the warrior in all of us. You will love Eileen, and you will love The Yellow House.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Yellow House, April 20, 2010
This review is from: The Yellow House: A Novel (Hardcover)
Our bookclub read THE YELLOW HOUSE and it drew more discussion than we have had over any book in the past year. This book is rich in characters and action. We were already picking the actors for the movie (Nicole Kidman in the lead!). THIS BOOK WILL MAKE A GREAT BEACH READ and I bet we will see it in many beach bags. I hope Patricia Falvey writes a sequel, I can see it as a generational story like THE THORN BIRDS.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great first novel!, August 22, 2011
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I have read a lot of historical fiction and was pleasantly surprised. The depth and grit of the characters, the setting and plot--the old story of poverty and war and families caught between--and the tension that Falvey allows to build between certain characters was intriguing and kept me reading. There is a range of emotions that her writing evokes and it was easy to be moved by the story she paints. A very good read. Now I am looking forward to her next novel!
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The Yellow House: A Novel
The Yellow House: A Novel by Patricia Falvey (Hardcover - February 15, 2010)
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