For Eileen, Ireland is more than just a country. It’s a home, a history — an heirloom to be defended and cherished. From the time she was a babe, her Da taught her a fierce pride in her Irish-Catholic roots — and living in Ulster at the turn of the century makes Eileen witness to the sort of strife that was as much a part of Irish Catholic life as soda bread and music on a Saturday night. When she is still young, her family and their beloved Yellow House begin to fall apart as political unrest and sickness leave no family unaffected.
The Yellow House follows Eileen’s life as she grows and finds a warrior for Ireland inside herself. Much of this book is Eileen trying to figure out what role is going to take center stage in her life. Will she be a fighter? A spinner at the mill? A wife? A mother? And all the while, deep down, what she truly wants is just to see her family all together and happy again in the Yellow House — a dream that keeps slipping away, not only because of the violence in her world and the hard things that keep happening to her, but also because of her own bad choices and inability to truly know her own mind. Add to that a love triangle with an Irish Revolutionary and a wealthy Quaker landowner, and poor Eileen is a mess of emotions a lot of the time, with so many good desires and so few paths to happiness.
I really liked this book, for the most part (the language was a bit much for me). I like Eileen as a strong character, despite her flaring temper and crazy choices. The truth of it is — she WAS in a hard place in a hard time and I appreciate that the author tried to show us all the different aspects of Irish life during that period — both Catholic and (in a lesser way) Protestant. It was a shade predictable for me, and the men in her life were painted as a bit too “good versus evil” for it to be completely believable, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get completely wrapped up in the story. If you are a fan of Irish history and coming-of-age books, then you should look for this one.
Rated: High, for dozens and dozens of the Lord’s name used in vain (usually “Jesus”), countless uses of the word “feck” (which apparently is not the same as the “f” word, but it’s used just like it), and all kinds of other language, including the actual “f” word 4 times; as well as three sex scenes (two are a bit more explicit than the other).