Saturday, August 25, 2012

#BookChat Tan - A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge by David Lawlor

‘Peelers have a knack for hitting you where it hurts; broken nose, bruised ribs, a few loosened more than a rapist deserved, Sergeant Coveney and District Inspector Webber had said. Proper order, too - except the lad was no rapist, and Webber knew it.’

It’s 1914 and Liam Mannion is forced into exile for a crime he didn’t commit. He flees Balbriggan, the only home he has ever known and travels to England, where he enlists and endures the torment of trench warfare in France. Five years later he’s back in England, a changed man, living in the shadow of his battlefield memories. Liam finds work in a Manchester cotton mill but prejudice and illness soon see him destitute. Starving and desperate, he enlists in a new military force heading to Ireland - the Black and Tans - and is posted to the very town he fled as a youth.

While he has been away Liam’s childhood friends have joined the republican cause, while his brother has allied himself to the Crown forces. Liam must wrestle with his own conflicted feelings about duty to the ruthless Tans and loyalty to his friends. The potent combination of ambition, patriotism and betrayal collide, forcing him to act as he comes face to face with the man who spread lies about him all those years before.
WHY I WROTE TAN: I've always been interested in this era of Irish history (1919-1921). My grandfather was very 'active' in this period fighting the British. The Black and Tans wre a notorious group of British soldiers who went to Ireland fresh from their experiences in France during World War One. They brought the brutality of the trenches to Irish towns and villages.I thought it would be intriguing to write a story from the perspective of someone who became a Tan...what their motivations were and what were the conflicts.
David Lawlor's descriptions of violent combat battles are exceptionally compelling. However, he didn't lose sight of the fact his book was a historical fiction. Lawlor brilliantly introduces the family. Other characters including friends and women are perfectly woven into the story. It's a beautifully written novel in which to entertain and learn about this period of Irish history. - Mary Crocco book blogger
An entertaining and historical page turner, with many surprises awaiting along the way - Jedwardian
I especially liked the portrayal of the women throughout. They are given time and substance; very engaging, likeable and credible. The fighting scenes, also, are riveting. At one point I thought Lawlor himself must have experienced the ordeals. I would love to see this story made into a movie. Here's one who would pay to see it. - Thomas Hollywood
This is an excellent read, it is well-paced, has memorable characters and is a catchy story. The author doesn't use history as an easy win for his storytelling, the heroes and villains of this piece are carefully constructed, and he manages to link the subtleties of the individual's struggle with war, peace and heavy-handed policing with the similar struggles of the fledgling nation. - Colleen Connolly
If you have a free day, and you fancy a roller-coaster ride from your armchair, put this one on your list. I didn't want to put it down. - EM Moran
BEHIND THE SCENES: There was a point in the story in which a main character dies that I found rather difficult. I didn't want to let him go but felt that he had to be sacrificed for the flow of the story. I thought about making his death very heroic but in the end opted to make it more prosaic. There's a scene in the movie Saving Private Ryan in which one of the patrol members - the medic - is shot and dies, despite the frantic efforts of his mates to save him. There was a terrible gasping panic in the man's voice as he died and I tried to convey that terrible sense of hoplessness in my character, too. I think the manner of my character's death was a 'success' in that respect and I have Steven Spielberg to thank for it.

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