Beyond Derrynane: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe
Wed in an arranged marriage to a man nearly fifty years her senior, sixteen-year-old Eileen O'Connell goes from being one of five unmarried sisters to become the mistress of Ballyhar, the great estate of John O'Connor, one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Ireland.
When O'Connor dies suddenly seven months into their marriage, Eileen must decide whether she will fulfil her brother's strategic goals for her family by marrying her late husband's son.
Headstrong and outspoken, Eileen frustrates her brother's wishes, as, through the auspices of her uncle, General Moritz O'Connell of the Imperial Austrian Army, she, along with her ebullient elder sister, Abigail, spend the ensuing richly-dramatic and eventful years at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in Vienna.
The sisters learn to navigate the complex and frequently contradictory ways of the court, and succeed in making a place for themselves in a world far different from remote Derrynane. Together with the general, they experience a complex life at the pinnacle of the Habsburg Empire.
Derrynane and the three books to follow, which will together constitute The Derrynane Saga - promise to be an enthralling series of historical novels, presenting a sweeping chronicle, set against the larger drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, dramatising the roles, which have never before been treated in fiction, played by a small number of expatriate Irish Catholics of the fallen "Gaelic Aristocracy" at the courts of Catholic Europe, as well as relating their complex, at times dangerous, lives at home in Protestant Ascendancy-ruled Ireland.
In addition to Eileen's, the books trace the largely-fictional lives of several other O'Connells of Derrynane, it is the tantalisingly few facts that are historically documented about them which provide the basic threads around which the tale itself is woven, into which strategic additions of numerous historical and fictional personalities and events intertwine seamlessly.
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About the Author
Kevin O'Connell is a native of New York City and a descendant of a young officer of what had-from 1690 to 1792-been the Irish Brigade of the French army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland and Mr. O'Connell's own grandparents came to New York in the early twentieth century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.
He is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.
For more than four decades, O'Connell has practiced international business transactional law, primarily involving direct-investment matters, throughout Asia (principally China), Europe, and the Middle East.The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.
"This was such a wonderful novel . . . a family saga and the first in a series, It starts with Eileen's arranged marriage and then sweeps across Europe where (she and her sister, Abigail) find themselves in the Habsburg court . . .the story is very captivating, I loved getting to know Eileen and Abby as . . . the waves of their life took them. The book was wonderfully researched and descriptive. It's full of history and family drama . . . just what I love in historical fiction . . . I really can't wait to see what happens next with the family . . . Superb." - (c) The Mistress of the Dark, A Chick Who Reads
"Beyond Derrynane is the first novel of a very compelling new historical fiction series. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Mr. O'Connell took us to Ireland, France and Austria and each place seemed so very real and wonderful. The characters are alive and vibrant. Eileen is a strong woman who never forgets who she is and will never be taken for granted.' - (c) Kinx's Book Nook
"Beyond Derrynane is one of those historical fiction stories that you hate to put down. A novel written about a family as large as the O'Connells is an especially interesting read as it is somewhat based on fact. Mr. O'Connell definitely has the Irish trait of being able to tell an interesting story." - (c) Kathleen Kelly, A Celtic Lady Reviews
"Rich. Inviting. And vividly detailed in the time, people and the activities around them. This journey of two Irish sisters, Abigail and Eileen, was filled with court life, intrigue, drama, choices, plotting, love, romance, family, and more. This was just the first of a four-book series of the Derrynane Saga. This first book was captivating with historical facts and recounting events that may or may not have occurred." - (c) The Book Junkie Reads
"This book is the story of Eileen O'Connell for the most part. It is the first in a (saga) about the O'Connell family of Derrynane, Ireland - a family that lived (lives) from a place that exists . . . . I found the life of this young woman to be very interesting and it's a point of view not usually seen in the books that I read. I'll look forward to the next . . . two books in the (saga)." - (c) Patricia Woodland, Broken Teepee
""Well researched, exceptionally detailed and highly informative! . . . This story takes us back into the 1760s, when women were considered mere objects and independence was unheard of, and gives us an in-depth look into the life and loves of the author's ancestors. . .It is ultimately a story about family relationships, betrayal, wealth, adventure, self discovery, fulfillment and love. . .The writing is well done with beautiful imagery. . . the plot unfolds chronologically with a good mix of historical fact, authentic dialogue, and heartfelt emotion that keeps the story flowing from start to finish . . ." (c) What's Better Than Books
"This was an interesting read. Eileen was an interesting character and I am curious to follow her story further. Abigail was entertaining; I think I liked Abigail more than I liked Eileen honestly... when the ending came, I was upset, I wanted it to keep going. I really want to see what is next for Eileen and her sister. . .an excellent opening book to the saga. . . the characters were interesting and the story was addicting . . ." (c) Carole's Ramblings, The Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell