Two Journeys Home

A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
310 Pages
Reviewed on 10/23/2017
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Author Biography

Kevin O'Connell is a native of of New York City, descended from 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 sometime following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland; Mr. O'Connell's own grandparents arrived in New York in the early Twentieth Century. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

He has been a serious student of Eighteenth Century European history, especially that of Ireland and France, for much of his life; one significant aspect of this has been a continuing scholarly as well as personal interest in the extended O'Connell family of Derrynane.

As a result, Mr. O'Connell is now writing a series of historical fiction novels, known as the Derrynane Saga. His first book, Beyond Derrynane: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe, was published by The Gortcullinane Press in July 2016, is in global circulation and has received a range of positive critical reviews, in the United States, the UK and in Europe. Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe, also a Gortcullinane book, continues and expands on the story begun in Derrynane and is the second of what ultimately will be four books in the Saga.

An alumnus of Don Bosco Preparatory School, O’Connell is a graduate of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite

Two Journeys Home is a historical fiction story by Kevin O’Connell. In 1767, widowed Eileen O’Connell returns to Derrynane, Ireland after spending over five years in Austria. She acquired European traits and customs considered presumptuous by a few relatives and locals. Eileen meets Lieutenant O’Leary while shopping and their attraction is so strong that they decide to marry. Family members disapprove, and give her an unreasonable ultimatum resulting in a scandal. Eileen, who was forced to marry her late husband, flees to Austria with O’Leary. Although happily married and working as a nanny to Archduchess Marie Antoine, Eileen dreams of returning to Ireland. She feels she’ll lead a more contented life there than in the royal Austrian court, but her family’s ultimatum could pose a problem.

If you want to know how the Irish played an integral part in the Irish Brigade of the French Army, as well as the Austrian Army, Two Journeys Home is a book I recommend. Although the story focuses on Eileen, who happens to be strong-willed, playful, caring and dedicated to her duties, it’s not entirely about romance. Kevin O’Connell made history come alive with his in-depth information about life in eighteenth-century Europe, the divisions and ranks of French and Austrian armies, and why Irishmen were considered valuable soldiers who helped strengthen these forces. I was introduced to the hierarchy of the court and understood why Eileen felt respected among her peers, yet inferior at times. Two Journeys Home is a fantastic book by Kevin O’Connell. He also made me want to tour Ireland while reading his description of the country.

Rabia Tanveer

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell takes the story of the O’Connell family forward. Although I have not read the previous novel in the series, I had no issues with getting into the flow of the story and feeling connected with the characters. Eileen, Abigail and Hugh all get a lot of page space and claim the attention of the reader. The story flows flawlessly with every scene and every page turn.

The story follows Eileen who gets the opportunity to return to Ireland, which she gladly does. Gone is the very young widow and in her place is a powerful woman who knows what she wants and she is not afraid to aim for it. Her life takes a turn for the better (or was it bad?) when she meets with the charming and dashing Art and they fall in love. But all is not well in their life! She needs to return to Vienna and there is a lot of conflict happening with the O’Connells. This is something that she cannot ignore, yet she has to make a decision or else she will be putting her happiness at stake. What can she do?

Complex yet very engaging, the novel jumped into the action from the get go. The characters are all very well built and developed so that they can stand out. The author did an amazing job at ensuring that the characters were in sync with their time. Nothing seemed out of place and even the very minor details were very well-constructed. Abigail and Hugh are not supporting characters, they are a part of the story that the reader enjoys. This historical novel is perhaps one of those few novels that stay true to the timeline and still connect with readers on a deeper level. Wonderful!

Divine Zape

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O'Connell is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters. The reader is introduced to a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue. After six eventful years at the court of Maria Theresa, Eileen O'Connell finally gets the opportunity to travel back to Ireland. She still has memories of her marriage to John O’Connor of Firies which ended, leaving her as a widow. The stage is set for awesome characters, including her sister, Abigail, and other compelling characters, a strong conflict, and a story that readers will follow with a lot of interest. The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises for readers who love drama, monumental conflicts, and the power game.

One of the things that grabbed my attention as I started reading this novel was the great writing. Kevin O'Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive and I was delighted to see how he builds the setting, offering readers powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time. The author has a gift for character and I enjoyed the way the blue-eyed Eileen with her husky voice is developed as well as her sister, Abigail. One gets the feeling that the characters are natural and the regal aspects of their personalities are wonderfully explored. The conflict is equally well-developed and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward. Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe is an absorbing and intelligently crafted historical novel that will take readers across exciting landscapes.