An ambitious and compelling first novel about a key moment in Irish history.
November 1917. With tensions in Ireland, war in Europe and revolution in Russia, Victor Lennon returns to his home village after a long exile.
Radicalised by his experiences in the Dublin Lockout and Easter Rising, Victor is a hero to many but a danger to some.
Those closest to Victor know his true nature: his father, Pius, now drinking himself to death; his oldest friend, Charlie, wounded in the trenches; and the love of his life, Maggie, who he left behind years before.
But soon Victor and the fearsome parish priest, Stanislaus Benedict, are on a collision course, with the very souls of the people caught between religion and socialism.
Told from the perspectives of these two equally strong-willed characters, After the Lockout is a first novel of tremendous ambition and achievement.
At its heart is a conflict emblematic of a recurring faultline in Irish history, and of one more eternal and universal: between hope and experience; between ideals and human weakness.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication Date: 28/03/2013
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780007429493
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Review by elkiedee
This impressive debut novel is mostly set in an Irish village in November 1917. Victor Lennon left Madden and headed for Dublin to fight for the ideals he believes in - socialism and workers' rights alongside Irish independence.The "lockout" mentioned in the title was a 5 month struggle between workers and employers over the right to join a trade union - a story I'm embarrassed, given my interest in Irish and labour movement history, to realise I know very little about.Victor's father Pius has been drinking himself to death, his 15 children scattered around the world, and Victor's friend Charlie persuades him to come home to try and rescue his heartbroken father. Not everyone is glad to see the great socialist hero return though. Local church figures fear he will challenge their power and influence and stir up the parishioners. Indeed, all kinds of trouble are brewing.I was intrigued by the setting and thought this was an excellent debut with very well drawn characters - from Victor himself, still angry, still keen to help ordinary people organise for something better, but already feeling some cynicism. I also liked the look at class politics in the Irish struggle at this time, and thought Victor with all his contradictions and confusions was a memorable protagonist. I did wonder at times if there was too much authorial hindsight - would people like Victor in 1917 foresee the betrayal of the nationalist cause so clearly?Recommended.