Feb 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Far From the Land: An Irish Memoir by Thomas J. Rice


"After years of favorite stories, told over and over by Mother and others,
I had it down. I knew her journey in detail,
from her early childhood to her becoming the famous Maggie O'Toole, to her romance with Artie Rice
and giving birth to eight children..." (ch. 2)
My comments: This is the story of Thomas Rice, the only son of Maggie and  Arty Rice, a boy who grew up in a farmhouse in Ballinvalley in rural Ireland, a boy afraid of the dark and the banshees of Celtic folklore, keening "women of the fairies" which his older sisters used to tease him about. Thomas leaves school at age 13 to help with the farm, in the absence of his charismatic but troubled father who left the family and who only showed up every now and then, with disastrous results.

Thomas becomes successful at farming in Ballinvalley, working with a neighbor Davy, who teaches him about horses and the land, but as a young teen he still longs for something different. At age 16 he and Maggie leave Ballinvalley for Sheffield, but he finds the taunting on the job and hardship in England too much to bear. They finally sail on the Queen Mary for America  and arrive in New York on July 4, 1959.

Here's what he says about his yearning for a life beyond home:

Each success in Ballinvalley had the paradoxical effect of reminding me of how hollow these
achievements had become.
Without knowing it, I'd become obsessed with the question
of what lay beyond that majestic sycamore grove
on the skyline over Borris - the one I'd taken
for granted each day for sixteen years -
and that I now say only as a barrier
between me and whatever lay beyond the thundering waves
of the blue-green Irish Sea. (ch. 23)


Recommendations: I found out a lot about the history of Ireland in this excellent and well-written memoir of coming-of-age in 1940s and 1950s Ireland. The memoir incorporates the history of life under the British, the fight for Irish independence in the 1920s and the hardship of life when Thomas Rice was growing up in the 1940s-50s. It also tells about daily life on a farm in rural Ireland and the community and closeness of the people.

Author: Thomas J. Rice received a scholarship to Cornell University, earned his doctoral degree, and is a college professor, leadership consultant, and social activist. He lives in Andover, Mass. Far from the Land: An Irish Memoir was published in 2009. Source: Free review book provided by Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc.

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39 comments:

  1. This sounds absolutely fascinating and I would like to read it. I love Irish history but am a little rusty. My Grandmother and her sisters left their rural home in Ireland in the 1930s - so this is a period that I have never been "told" about. Thanks for the recommendation, Hannah

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  2. This sounds like a good one. I love books set in Ireland.

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  3. Sounds like an interesting memoir. My own relatives came over in the mid1800s. My grandfather (add 3 greats) served in the Civil War.
    Nice teaser!

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  4. I like that teaser; makes me want to read more. Here is my teaser:

    http://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/2010/02/tuesday-teasers_23.html

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  5. sounds good. Thanks for visiting my teaser.

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  6. Nice teaser. What an interesting life.

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  7. This sounds like a really good read. Thank you for visiting my blog and teaser.

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  8. Lovely teaser and it sounds like an intriguing read.

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  9. I would love love love to goto Ireland. Enjoy your book. Here's Mine.

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  10. I visited Ireland last year. It was beautiful and I wished I could have spent more time there.

    Here are our teasers!

    ♥Isalys
    Book Soulmates

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  11. Not my type of read, but a good teaser.

    Thanks for stopping by my teaser as well!

    -Jess
    (Find the Time to Read)

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  12. Sounds like a great read - the author certainly has an interesting story to tell. Excellent teaser! Here's mine.

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  13. Hi :)
    I'm such a sucker for fantasy books.

    I have about a dozen different vampire, shapeshifter, alien and even a few lords as my literary
    boyfriends, haha!

    Thanks for stopping by!!!

    ♥Isalys

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  14. Sounds interesting. I love Teaser Tuesdays!

    Here's mine:

    http://twe.ly/5Ac

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  15. Great post! Interesting teaser, with lots of good extra info. Thanks for stopping by my Teaser Tuesday post on my blog, too!

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic

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  16. Interesting.

    http://fredasvoice.blogspot.com/2010/02/teaser.html

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  17. Sounds like a book my Mother-In-Law would love. Thanks for the teaser...

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  18. Great teaser and beautiful cover!

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  19. I like the sound of this one. Will add it to my tbr list. Beautiful cover as well!

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  20. I have to agree this does sound fascinating! Great choice and tease!

    Thanks for popping by to mine. :)

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  21. Sounds like a really interesting read :)

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  22. This sounds great. I love anything to do with Ireland.

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  23. This sounds wonderful. Great teaser.

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  24. I'm in love with the cover and the story sounds really good!!

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  25. Sounds really interesting, and I love the cover! Great teaser

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  26. Great teaser! Thanks for sharing! :)

    Vanessa
    Book Soulmates

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  27. A book set in Ireland? May have to check this one out!

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  28. So from the teaser, the author seems to miss Ireland a whole lot.. but then if he loves his country so much, why did he leave Ireland for America? Why doesn't he return now? Ireland is a great country to live. I won't mind living there myself.

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  29. It sounds interesting and like the sort of stories I enjoy reading.

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  30. Great teaser...sounds very interesting!

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  31. I like you teaser as well as the sense I'm getting of the book as I read about it here.

    Malcolm

    P.S. My teaser is here:

    http://jockstewart.typepad.com/writers_notebook/2010/02/tuesday-teaser-a-chaunce-of-riches.html

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  32. Nice teaser! I think most children have someone whose stories they've heard so much that they could repeat them backwards and forwards. I feel like I know my great-grandmother, even though I never met her. You know? Great choice - and the book sounds interesting too!

    Thanks for coming by my blog!

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  33. This is an excellent teaser! One of the best I've come across so far. Thanks for the good introduction to the book. I'm adding it!

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  34. This sounds like a very interesting book; thanks for sharing!

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  35. thanks for bringing this book to my attention and for stopping by my blog. This definitely looks like one I would like!

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