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The Memory of Music: One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016

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The bestselling novel, The Memory of Music. One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016 Betty O’Fogarty is proud and clever. Spurred on by her belief in her husband Seamus’s talent as a violin-maker and her desire to escape rural life, they elope to Dublin. She expects life there to fulfil all her dreams. To her horror, she discovers that they can only aff The bestselling novel, The Memory of Music. One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016 Betty O’Fogarty is proud and clever. Spurred on by her belief in her husband Seamus’s talent as a violin-maker and her desire to escape rural life, they elope to Dublin. She expects life there to fulfil all her dreams. To her horror, she discovers that they can only afford to live in the notorious poverty-stricken tenements. Seamus becomes obsessed with republican politics, neglecting his lucrative craft. And, as Dublin is plunged into chaos and turmoil at Easter 1916, Betty gives birth to her first child to the sound of gunfire and shelling. But Betty vows that she will survive war and want, and move her little family out of the tenements.Nothing will stand in her way. One hundred years later, secrets churn their way to the surface and Betty’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren uncover both Betty’s ruthlessness and her unique brand of heroism.


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The bestselling novel, The Memory of Music. One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016 Betty O’Fogarty is proud and clever. Spurred on by her belief in her husband Seamus’s talent as a violin-maker and her desire to escape rural life, they elope to Dublin. She expects life there to fulfil all her dreams. To her horror, she discovers that they can only aff The bestselling novel, The Memory of Music. One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016 Betty O’Fogarty is proud and clever. Spurred on by her belief in her husband Seamus’s talent as a violin-maker and her desire to escape rural life, they elope to Dublin. She expects life there to fulfil all her dreams. To her horror, she discovers that they can only afford to live in the notorious poverty-stricken tenements. Seamus becomes obsessed with republican politics, neglecting his lucrative craft. And, as Dublin is plunged into chaos and turmoil at Easter 1916, Betty gives birth to her first child to the sound of gunfire and shelling. But Betty vows that she will survive war and want, and move her little family out of the tenements.Nothing will stand in her way. One hundred years later, secrets churn their way to the surface and Betty’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren uncover both Betty’s ruthlessness and her unique brand of heroism.

30 review for The Memory of Music: One Irish family – One hundred turbulent years: 1916 to 2016

  1. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Madden

    Ireland 2016 and Isabel is approaching her 100th Birthday. Born during the Easter Rising, she has lived through some of the country's most turbulent times. The daughter of a spirited woman and gifted violin-maker, the memories come to life when she hears the music of her past. Dublin 1916 and Betty is about to give birth, alone. Irish rebels are taking over the city and she fears for her husband's safety. Huddled in a tenement building, close to the GPO, she vows to improve her circumstances, wi Ireland 2016 and Isabel is approaching her 100th Birthday. Born during the Easter Rising, she has lived through some of the country's most turbulent times. The daughter of a spirited woman and gifted violin-maker, the memories come to life when she hears the music of her past. Dublin 1916 and Betty is about to give birth, alone. Irish rebels are taking over the city and she fears for her husband's safety. Huddled in a tenement building, close to the GPO, she vows to improve her circumstances, with or without her husband's consent. Ireland's battle for Independence has been the subject of many novels in recent months. The brave men and women of our nation have been re-worked into some fine narratives and every child in the country celebrated this years centenary. Olive Collins has added on something extra by bringing the story forward. From the Rebellion, subsequent executions and treaty negotiations through to the end of civil war and its bitter aftermath. She uses Betty, Isabel and their extended family to show how determination can sometimes lead to despair. Betty's husband Seamus is a gifted man, full of musical talent and is an unparalleled creator of exquisite violins. However, his Republican values outweigh his love of his personal life and he becomes increasingly distant from his family. Late night visits, hidden arms and secret societies become the norm and Betty fears for her future. Her hardened determination results in her own secrets. As the years slip by, the female descendants of Betty are unaware of the murky details of their matriarch's early years, until the discovery of some hidden letters... Historical fiction can sometimes be weighed down by the authors research and the characters can become victims of their historical relevance. This is not so with The Memory of Music. While it is obvious that the author has an intensive knowledge of 20thC Irish History, especially the years surrounding our desire to break from English rule, she does not drown the reader with facts. Rather, she gives enough detail to relate the characters to their situations and leaves the reader with a taster that may result in further research, if desired. A teaser, if you like. The writing is fluid and clear, with the novel split into three parts; the first part centered around the events of 1916, the second on Treaty negotiations and the War of Independence, whilst the final part leads the novel towards current times. There are a gaggle of female, cross-generational characters in part three and I found myself struggling to retain their relevance to Seamus and Betty's story. The idea of discovered letters is nothing new, but add in some torn photos and antique violins and furniture and it ups the game. This is a great read, ideal for fans of Marita Conlon-McKenna's Rebel Sisters or RTÉ's recent TV drama, Rebellion. A very worthy debut, ideally timed for the 1916 centenary celebrations and the upcoming anniversary of the War of Independence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Orla McAlinden

    The Memory of Music is a thoroughly rewarding read, and is so much more than a family drama. This is the latest book to be released dealing with the centenary year of 2016 ( celebrating and commemorating the rebellion known as The Easter Rising which was pivotal in the final departure of Britain from a ruling role in the Republic of Ireland). I have read several of these novels and Olive Collins’s debut stands up to the comparisons. We all have a tendency to judge a book by its cover and The Memor The Memory of Music is a thoroughly rewarding read, and is so much more than a family drama. This is the latest book to be released dealing with the centenary year of 2016 ( celebrating and commemorating the rebellion known as The Easter Rising which was pivotal in the final departure of Britain from a ruling role in the Republic of Ireland). I have read several of these novels and Olive Collins’s debut stands up to the comparisons. We all have a tendency to judge a book by its cover and The Memory of Music does have a very attractive cover. While the cover might imply a straightforward romance in the women’s fiction genre, the book certainly deals with much more than inter-personal relationships. The historical research is evident without being overwhelming and the poverty and desperation of the Dublin slums in the years leading up to 1916 are evocative and well-written. The isolation and fear of the young wife who comes to Dublin to advance her husband’s career, but watches as he slips deeper and deeper into the grip of Republican politics, and as he finally endangers the security of the new-born infant and the two-room tenement lodgings by bringing home his allies, is convincing and well thought-out. I particularly liked the strength and determination shown by the near-destitute women of Dublin’s slums… the feisty and strong predecessors of Mrs Brown… and I loved the evocation of snobbery displayed by the main protagonist, who does her utmost to forget her humble years in the slums, even to the point of lying to her parents and blanking the women who had helped her in her hour of need. If historical fiction with a good dollop of drama and illicit romance thrown in is your thing…this debut will not disappoint. There is a strong unvoiced anti-war sentiment throughout the book… a strange equivocation which has been evident all through the 2016 centenary commemorations: without the carnage and apparent futility of the Easter Rising, the brutality of the War of Independence and the horror of the Civil War (all within one decade) Ireland would not be the sovereign country she now is. And yet, the book avoids all hint of jingoism and concentrates on the truest, most vulnerable victims of every conflict: the women and children who often don’t care who “rules” the country, as long as they and their beloved children are left alone. Unfortunately, they never are. As in life, the secrets of that awful decade of carnage haunt the family for generations, until we reach the fifth generation, a truly global, switched-on set of young women, whose role it is to relegate these dark secrets to the past at last.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Woods

    Didn't like it. This multigenerational story told from the aspect of women in an Irish family from 1916 to 2016 was a hard one to stay reading until the end. Ireland's history during the fight for independence from 1916 and then the civil war is told through the eyes of Betty, a rather self-indulged character who I didn't like at all. Her feelings of superiority over her fellow Irish countrymen was irritating and I found myself sympathetic to her husband and the wars. Another problem for me was th Didn't like it. This multigenerational story told from the aspect of women in an Irish family from 1916 to 2016 was a hard one to stay reading until the end. Ireland's history during the fight for independence from 1916 and then the civil war is told through the eyes of Betty, a rather self-indulged character who I didn't like at all. Her feelings of superiority over her fellow Irish countrymen was irritating and I found myself sympathetic to her husband and the wars. Another problem for me was the bogged down plot with all the various children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their abstract opinions as they try to fit the pieces of historical pieces they have in order to understand their own family history. I felt like an entire half of the writing could easily have been edited out or shortened to make it a good story. The plot drifted into areas that seemed out of place and added nothing to the plot. Having my own ethnic connection to Ireland, I found the historical political aspect very interesting, though. But as,a romance novel it failed in my opinion. I actually didn't like most of the female characters in the book and find it selfish of any family member to keep family history from any one member of a family. You would have to read the book to understand this, but I have no recommendation on that count.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jolene

    There are so many things that drew me to this book. First, it was selected by my bookclub. I loved the cover photo, the title, and the premise of the book. Yes, it was interesting having kitchen chair seating during the Easter Rising and Irish independent conflicts. The only characters I came to appreciate were Betty's Mom and Mona. I was so disappointed that the title of the book was a brief paragraph of story, I wanted it more deeply weaved throughout the family drama. At the heart of this boo There are so many things that drew me to this book. First, it was selected by my bookclub. I loved the cover photo, the title, and the premise of the book. Yes, it was interesting having kitchen chair seating during the Easter Rising and Irish independent conflicts. The only characters I came to appreciate were Betty's Mom and Mona. I was so disappointed that the title of the book was a brief paragraph of story, I wanted it more deeply weaved throughout the family drama. At the heart of this book, it is a family drama. I flicked past so many pages of the story and when my screen stopped scrolling it was as thought I had missed nothing in the story. I want to feel more for the characters in the books I read, I felt robbed. Sorry to those that loved the book, you probably think I am an eejit! Maybe the tide between will be more to my liking. I would read another Olive Collins book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Irish historical novel Gave me a new perspective on Irish history - which I liked . A tad bit confusing when it changes to present . A few inaccurate references to Betty O' Fogerty Hopkins as Betty Salmon. Once I figured all of the relationships out - from present to past - story made more sense but ending was a bit anticlimactic. Irish historical novel Gave me a new perspective on Irish history - which I liked . A tad bit confusing when it changes to present . A few inaccurate references to Betty O' Fogerty Hopkins as Betty Salmon. Once I figured all of the relationships out - from present to past - story made more sense but ending was a bit anticlimactic.

  6. 4 out of 5

    R.A. Moses

    Poorly written with not only typographical errors but also character references.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Raasch

    History of an Irish family from the time of "the troubles" to present day. Political and personal secrets, family loyalties, etc. 2.5-3 stars. History of an Irish family from the time of "the troubles" to present day. Political and personal secrets, family loyalties, etc. 2.5-3 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    mary m green

    “I started “The Memory of Music” immediately after finishing “The Tides Between Us,” also by Olive Collins, because I had enjoyed “ Tides” so much. I did not enjoy this one as much. The poor editing that I was willing to overlook in “Tides” because I was so engrossed in the characters and story became an annoying impediment in “Memory.” I also did not care for Collins’ choice to jump ahead several generations from the end of Part 2, which takes place in the years surrounding and including the Ea “I started “The Memory of Music” immediately after finishing “The Tides Between Us,” also by Olive Collins, because I had enjoyed “ Tides” so much. I did not enjoy this one as much. The poor editing that I was willing to overlook in “Tides” because I was so engrossed in the characters and story became an annoying impediment in “Memory.” I also did not care for Collins’ choice to jump ahead several generations from the end of Part 2, which takes place in the years surrounding and including the Easter Rising, to Part 3, when the little girl of Part 2 has aged into a secrets-keeping and not very lovable grandmother. Her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughter uncover the secrets and, with them, some understanding of the old woman’s ways. They also learn how some of their own traits relate to those of the women who have gone before them. Their situations and ways of thinking also illustrate huge changes in Irish life and attitudes. For me, none of that is enough to justify the writer’s method of completing the multi-generational tale through investigations by the younger generations. Continuing the narrative from Part 2 through to the old woman’s death would have interested me more. The most involving segments of Part 3 are, in fact, when the dying grandmother is lucid enough to think back to episodes in her life and they are presented in narrative form, not as discoveries pieced together by her descendants. I was interested enough in the story to continue to the end, but this book was a disappointment after “Tides.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Crain

    Peeling Away the Layers This author has a way of making you want to know more. She tells you just enough to hold your interest but leaves you needing more answers. It's like peeling away the layers of an onion. Sometimes what you find will be sweet and other times you will have tears in your eyes. I really enjoy Ms Collins' stories. She does, however, need a little help with editing grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes it's hard to know which character she is referencing. I have read The Wea Peeling Away the Layers This author has a way of making you want to know more. She tells you just enough to hold your interest but leaves you needing more answers. It's like peeling away the layers of an onion. Sometimes what you find will be sweet and other times you will have tears in your eyes. I really enjoy Ms Collins' stories. She does, however, need a little help with editing grammar and sentence structure. Sometimes it's hard to know which character she is referencing. I have read The Weaver's Legacy and now finished The Memory of Music. I'm ready to start The Tide Between Us and hope it will be equally enthralling. I'm going to be watching for more by this author.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Oceantide74

    1.5 stars. I was looking forward to reading this novel since I really enjoyed The Weaver’s Legacy and The Tide Between Us. However, this book was I insufferable! I did not like any of the characters-Betty had no redeeming qualities. The character development for all was not good. The shift to the modern part of the book was cliche. I only finished it because 1. I paid for it and 2. I liked her other novels. Boy, the author really developed as a writer for her other novels. That’s the positive ta 1.5 stars. I was looking forward to reading this novel since I really enjoyed The Weaver’s Legacy and The Tide Between Us. However, this book was I insufferable! I did not like any of the characters-Betty had no redeeming qualities. The character development for all was not good. The shift to the modern part of the book was cliche. I only finished it because 1. I paid for it and 2. I liked her other novels. Boy, the author really developed as a writer for her other novels. That’s the positive take away from this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Beverly Steer

    The Memory of music Being of Irish decent I thoroughly enjoyed this story. My Father’s Aunts would converse with the lilting sounds speaking English but you knew they were from Ireland. They were a very close family and kept their secrets. My daughter is doing our genealogy and has very little to go on. On the Ellis Island list and papers just lists Ireland as where they came from. I am third generation and didn’t ask questions when I was younger.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Montigny

    This book needs a good edit The story was interesting though convoluted. It was difficult remembering who was who. Two things that struck me were the number of mistakes where the author changed some wording but forgot to take out an old word and the preachiness of her message. Very anti-religion. I won’t be buying another one of her books. We live in a diverse world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Blair H. Smith

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The first half was excellent, giving an insight into events and their effects, around the Easter rising and Civil War. The second half, jumping on about 100 years, was disappointing, and difficult to follow, with the sudden introduction of new figures from several generations, as they tried to work out what we already knew

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Catalano

    Varied thoughts The author took on different writing style over the different time periods. I enjoyed the early part of the book but as the book continued and the use of vulgarities increased I enjoyed it less. Could have developed the title in the book far more

  15. 4 out of 5

    maria seilius

    A good historical novel . The first two parts were excellent . Part three which is set in modern day wasn't as good and I failed to find very much too like about the characters in this part of the story . If you are interested in Irish history the book is definitely worth a read . A good historical novel . The first two parts were excellent . Part three which is set in modern day wasn't as good and I failed to find very much too like about the characters in this part of the story . If you are interested in Irish history the book is definitely worth a read .

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Taylor

    Loved this creatively woven story I thoroughly enjoyed this book with all its well kept secrets and characters. The unraveling of all was for the future generations and to finally find out what happened to Betty’s second child was all worth the read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shari

    Tedious, unlikeable characters, no mystery, no story line worth following. Read the first half and you know all you need to know. And way too many cliches. I gave it an extra star because you do get insight into Ireland’s 20th century history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    catherine fiore

    I truly hope they make this story into a mini series for tv. Great story so many characters gets and generations, lots of Irish history great read. don't miss this one. The tide between us is great also. I truly hope they make this story into a mini series for tv. Great story so many characters gets and generations, lots of Irish history great read. don't miss this one. The tide between us is great also.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Janice M E Miller

    The second part in 2016 was better than first part which dwelt too heavily on the Irish history aspect. The secret love affair got lost in the history lesson. However the second part showed the strength and characteristics of a family of strong women over a period of 100 years.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This was great until part 3, it then became very weak and just a repeat of parts 1 and 2 but from the present. Completely lost it's edge from then on. This was great until part 3, it then became very weak and just a repeat of parts 1 and 2 but from the present. Completely lost it's edge from then on.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Walsh

    Surprising story Great tale of the war for Irish independence with a tale of a family kept apart by secrets. A brilliant read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Smith

    Good read Enjoyed this saga of a family and some very harsh secrets. A look into the violent history of Ireland. A time of great upheaval and civil war.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather Scamardo

    Very good book Both The Tide Between Us and The Memory of Music interesting reads. Captivates you and hard to put down. Some minor editing issues

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Great read A glimpse into Irish life. Family secrets buried and never revealed. Well done. I loved meeting the next generations and learning about their lives.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Sorrick

    You will love it I read all three of her books in 4 days! Great characters , believable, takes you right into the story. Love her writing style.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy Palmore

    Until the end Enjoyed reading about this family. Starting with a young couple in love who elope. They move from the country to Dublin a d how their lives change.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Steinke

    Historical Fiction I enjoyed this read very much. Leaving this book with a better understand of the Irish-Catholic influence on society. Captivating story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    Too much soap opera dynamics. After the Civil War the story is very predictable. It was also very frustrating to see the name Isobel spelled this way in the opening diagram and Isabel throughout the softcover book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelsi

    Rewarding read I read this book in about a week, which is normal for me. I loved the narrative from Betty's point of view. It was very well written, and descriptive. However, I found when it switched to the present time, it was jarring. There were too many characters for such a short section, and I had trouble keeping them all straight. I really wish the book would've have gone back and forth between Betty's and current time, or if it was all from Betty's time. I learned a lot about Irish politic Rewarding read I read this book in about a week, which is normal for me. I loved the narrative from Betty's point of view. It was very well written, and descriptive. However, I found when it switched to the present time, it was jarring. There were too many characters for such a short section, and I had trouble keeping them all straight. I really wish the book would've have gone back and forth between Betty's and current time, or if it was all from Betty's time. I learned a lot about Irish politics during the 1910's-20's, and I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the book. But, it is in general a really good read, especially if you like strong females.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ailish JAMES

    The novel begins in 1916 with Betty and Seamus eloping to Dublin, the main character Betty is strong and ruthless, she's also selfish with vast expectations. Her husband is involvement in the republican cause. The book is so atmospheric and the story is told so well, I was there in Dublin with the characters as the 1916 Rising began and Betty delivered her first child. Not only does it involve 1916 but also the War of Independence and Ireland's Civil War and the aftermath for ordinary women and The novel begins in 1916 with Betty and Seamus eloping to Dublin, the main character Betty is strong and ruthless, she's also selfish with vast expectations. Her husband is involvement in the republican cause. The book is so atmospheric and the story is told so well, I was there in Dublin with the characters as the 1916 Rising began and Betty delivered her first child. Not only does it involve 1916 but also the War of Independence and Ireland's Civil War and the aftermath for ordinary women and their families. There is a fantastic twist. The strong female well-rounded characters had me gripped and inspired. I can highly recommend it.

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