I am truly torn as to what to say about this book and how to rate it.
To be honest, the story is a bit predictable and cliche. I didn't really feel the romance or love between the characters who were obviously supposed to be the picture of those things. And the Irish tone of the novel - the style of language and whatnot - seemed forced, especially at the beginning.
However - and this is a big however - while predictable, the story is not boring. The ending isn't all sugar and kisses, which is a nice change. And Gracelin's story is certainly able to evoke some strong emotions. It has been a long time since I found myself choking up while reading a book - especially numerous times. I absolutely suggest this novel if you are interested in Ireland and even more so, if you are interested in nineteenth century Irish history. 3.5/5 stars.
Also, a note: It would behoove the reader to keep in mind the culture and time period in which the novel is taking place; personally I had to remind myself of this numerous times because Gracelin's attitude toward her Irish lord husband and about their questionable marriage would otherwise be quite maddening when held up to modern beliefs and opinions.
"'...a man must do his own thinking if he's not to be a fool.'"
"'Great change cannot occur without great sacrifice.'"
"'Are you afraid?'
'No,' she answered truthfully. 'I've lived through everything there is to be afraid of.'"