Welcome to our second read-along discussion of The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey. If you’re following our schedule, you should have read the first four sections of the book, and be finished with the section titled “Insurrection, 1919-1920.”
Spoiler alert: We will be discussing the book in detail, so if you haven’t read this far and don’t want to read any spoilers, you should skip this post.
Were you surprised by the turn the romantic storyline took?
I was surprised, actually. I really thought that Eileen was going to end up with Owen – and I saw some real warning signs in James’ character that I hoped Eileen would see as reasons to avoid getting tangled up with him. And then she went and married the guy – and he only got worse! On her wedding day, when she discovered that James had never spoken to his mother about Fergus moving back into the house, Eileen should have run far, far away! Passion for a shared cause can only take you so far – and is definitely no foundation for a marriage.
What do you think of James? Is his treatment of his family – all in the name of the cause – justified?
I don’t think it is, and yet I’m certain that Ireland gained her independence because there were many men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything for the cause. In abstract, that is understandable, but when taken at a personal level where you can see the way it affects a family, it is harder to justify. Poor Eileen. James has stolen so much from her – her hopes of a good marriage, her child’s name, her money, her dreams of restoring the Yellow House. I really, really dislike his character!
What do you think of Eileen’s reaction to James’ final betrayal – the emptying of her savings account?
I found that section disturbing, especially in the light of her mother’s history of nervous breakdown. I have resisted the temptation to read further and discover if Eileen is truly wrecked, as the last pages of this section implied. I like to think that she has more strength than her mother, though, and will pull herself together for her child’s sake.
How do you think the author is handling the intricacies of the political situation?
I am impressed with the way Falvey is slowly unfolding the complications surrounding the fight for Irish independence. By reintroducing Owen Sheridan to the story – and his reasons for rejoining the British Army – she has given nuance to a story that could easily become a one-sided pamphlet against the British. I wholeheartedly believe the Irish have the right to rule their own country, and like to think that if Britain had capitulated earlier, many years of atrocities could have been avoided. However, there was much violence perpetrated by both sides, and I think Falvey is doing a wonderful job of showing that.
I had forgotten how difficult it is to read a book this slowly! Is anyone else having that problem? And, if so, would any of you like to finish the book this week, rather than dragging it out until the end of the month? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section. I have no problem either way – I can hold off and only read the third quarter, or if everyone else wants to finish, I am fine with that, too.
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 238 in the hardcover edition, which includes these sections: “Truce, 1920-1921? and “Passion, 1921.”