Welcome to our first read-along discussion of The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey. If you’re following our schedule, you should have read the first two sections of the book: “Glenlea, County Armagh, 1905″ and “Queensbrook Linen Mill, 1913.”
Spoiler alert: We will be discussing the book in detail, so if you haven’t read those sections and don’t want to read any spoilers, you should skip this post.
What do you think of the writing?
Personally, I am enjoying the writing style very much. She seems to have captured the mood of the time period, as well as given us some wonderful descriptions of the country. I love the way she describes the “mountain” Slieve Mullion, and I very much enjoy the scenes where the musicians are playing.
There was one part that bothered me, but this may be ignorance on my own part. At one point when Eileen is thinking about Slieve Mullion, the book talks about the “crevasses formed millions of years ago by the ice age.” My question is whether or not a young girl in 1913 Ireland, raised Catholic, would look at the terrain and think about it in that way, as someone educated in evolutionary theory would describe it. It was enough to pull me out of the story to ponder this for a minute – but that’s a small thing. For the most part, I found it very readable and hard to put down.
What do you think of Eileen’s parents?
There seems to be trend in Irish fiction that I’ve just started to notice: the ineffectual dreamer father whose children adore him but whose wife is continually angered by how useless he is in all practical matters. I wonder if this is really a type seen a lot in Ireland or simply a literary device. Her father’s passion for his home and his country’s history have passed on to Eileen – as has her mother’s steel and determination. Hopefully she hasn’t inherited her mother’s tendency toward nervous breakdowns as well!
It seems that the book is heading in a romantic direction when it comes to Eileen and Owen Sheridan. What do you think of this potential romance?
Lovers with the whole history of their nation and centuries of enmity between them – who can resist the romance! I like Owen’s character – he doesn’t seem to take his family’s wealth for granted. I can see huge future heartache for Eileen, though, as soon as his family gets involved. And, of course, if he’s going off to war – she may never see him again.
As we closed the second section, the world is on the brink of the First World War, and Ireland is being torn apart by the fight for Home Rule. Have you learned anything about Ireland or the world at this time period that was new to you?
One thing I found very interesting when I read Frank Delaney’s Tipperary was that Britain indicated to Ireland that they would be amenable to Home Rule if the Irish would join the cause in World War I. Of course, they didn’t hold up to their end of the bargain after the war was over. I’m wondering if Falvey will go into the political ramifications of Irish boys going off to fight, or if she plans to keep her story more on a personal level, about how the war affects the characters. It is definitely one of the time periods of modern history that I don’t know a lot about, and so I find books set in this era fascinating.
Those are all the questions I can think of for this section. Feel free to answer the questions or simply post your thoughts on this week’s reading in the comments section. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to write a discussion post on your blog, please leave a link in the comments so we can all visit and chime in.
For next week, we will read through page 164 in the hardcover edition, which includes these sections: “War, 1914-1918″ and “Insurrection, 1919-1920.”