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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
In The Love Of One's Country, we first meet Jerry Burke, a man who was born and raised in Ireland but decided to leave for Canada to start a musical career in 1966. He was working at a clerical job in Dublin that didn’t fulfill him and he grabbed the first offer to go to Canada. He also wanted to begin translating his great-great-great-grandmother's written works. She was a famous poet of the early and mid-1800s. Aside from her, Jerry is eager to find out what happened to her youngest son, the Jeremiah he was named after, who left Ireland for Canada during the famine in 1847 and was never heard from again.
The novel soon jumps back and forth between Jerry and Jeremiah. For Jerry, it’s his struggle and eventual retiring from music to attend college and pursue a journalistic career. Jeremiah in 1846/47 talks about his own indecision on what to do with his life. Currently, a school teacher because he wasn’t made for the priest's life, he wants to escape the horror and famine all around them. It was during this time that an offer was made for people to go to Canada with the promise of land and money to start life anew. He immediately jumps at it and marries his sweetheart before they set sail. In Jerry’s case, we move forward from the mid-sixties to 1992 where he has been working in journalism for a while now and, with all the new changes, he isn’t sure if this is what he wants to do anymore. He, however, has a keen interest in his great-great-great-grandmother’s fame as a poet and about whatever happened to her son, his ancestor Jeremiah. His co-worker gets him started in genealogy research and the quest begins.
Brian Brennan’s The Love Of One's Country is an amazing tale of not one but two interesting characters. Two men from two very different times, yet who have a lot more in common than just blood. Creativity and music seem to be a common thread that binds the Burke family together, especially in the case of Jerry, Jeremiah and even Máire. You find yourself traveling on this ancestral journey with Jerry; the breakthroughs, the roadblocks, and even the sad news. With Jeremiah, you are traveling with him to an unknown land with hopes for a better future. I also learned a lot about the immigrants who left Ireland for Canada. We read in our history books that they left for America and Canada for a new life, but they never mention the deaths and how many never made it. Brian Brennan did a phenomenal job in writing this part of history that is so often overlooked. The Love Of One's Country is definitely a book I’d recommend everyone to read.