Title: Charlie Mac: A Story of Ordinary People Who Lived in Extraordinary Times by Maria McDonald
Genre: Currently #37389 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Kindle eBooks, Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: March 30, 2018
Source: Direct request by author
Title and Cover: Charlie Mac – The chair holds significance but doesn’t wholly convey the tragedy that it included.
This is the fictional account of the life and death of Charlie McMullen, great-grandfather of the author which follows three generations through one of the most tumultuous times in the history of Ireland–specifically in Belfast.
Charlie was born in 1873 and died just after the Irish Home Rule Campaign ended with the establishment of the border dividing Ireland. A city fella, he married a country girl, Mary Jane from County Down. Her life experience was totally opposite his, as was her religion; hers being Catholic. We can’t help who we fall in love with and sometimes that will forever shape our destiny. But neither his Belfast neighbors nor their respective families were happy with the marriage. The couple thought, however, that the strength of their union would overcome objections. It couldn’t and didn’t, resulting in tragedy.
Unfortunately, Belfast was a very large and dynamic city, and while it held the opportunities also the challenges. It was the birthplace of the Titanic. It was Charlie’s home and where he held a fairly secure position and so they married and moved to Belfast. The chronicle follows their life and struggles in Belfast with the occasional welcome respite “home” to Mary Jane’s family farm in Annalong where they could work the soil, hike the trails of the Mourne Mountains, and enjoy life at a much slower, less divisive pace.
Mary Jane gave birth to six children, although they lost one boy within a year. They raised three sons and two daughters. The sons viewed the struggle with differing opinions and took their separate paths. One daughter was ever the peace-maker while the other lost a sweetheart at the Somme. The household divided as seriously as the country creating ever deeper rifts within the family. Belfast at the same time became unstable and violent, divided by religion and politics, and eventually forced the carnage that resulted in the shooting death of Charlie in his own home, in his favorite chair.
However painful, life seems to go on and the children became adults and were making their own choices. The oldest daughter having lost her sweetheart eventually immigrated to America and as families sometimes do, the children scattered and spread where the opportunities lay or they found some peace and security.
Unfortunately, the conflicts that politics and religion create in the human community continue to be a heated struggle. The result in this instance ultimately led to the complete division of the country. As the author suggests, her family’s story was not one of fighters or heroes. However, it was no doubt repeated in other households as the effort to survive continued in the face of the struggles.
The author performed an admiral job, creating a story that reads realistically, providing an ebb and flow of sentiment, emotions, and grief. Characters are well fleshed and empathetic. Some historical events are weaved into the storyline painting a whole picture of the life and times in a growing and unsettled city.
I received a review request directly from the author and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for those to enjoy historical fiction, literary fiction, and chronicles of the struggle to partition Ireland into the divided state of the island we see today.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: (From Amazon Author page) Originally from Belfast, Maria McDonald lives in County Kildare with her husband, adult children, and two dogs. Her first novel ‘Charlie Mac’ is a work of historical fiction, basely loosely on the life, and death, of her great-grandfather Charlie McMullen. Maria also writes short stories, two of which were published in ‘Woman’s Way’ magazine. She also writes a weekly blog aimed at the over 50’s. You can read it at https://mariamcdonaldblog.wordpress.com
©2018 V Williams