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Torn Asunder: A Historical Fiction Irish Family Drama

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He is an inspiring journalist, but Emmet Ryan has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. This is a story about a conflicted man, opening in Dublin, 1916 and set during one of Ireland’s most turbulent eras.


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He is an inspiring journalist, but Emmet Ryan has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. This is a story about a conflicted man, opening in Dublin, 1916 and set during one of Ireland’s most turbulent eras.

30 review for Torn Asunder: A Historical Fiction Irish Family Drama

  1. 5 out of 5

    George1st

    The complexities and tragedy of 20th century Irish history are skillfully conveyed by Renny deGroot in this readable and intelligent historical fiction novel. Beginning in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising we follow the tortuous and bloody path to the creation of the Irish Free State by following the equally tortuous and conflicted life of journalist Emmet Ryan. All the major events are here. The rising itself, the subsequent suppression, the Croke Park massacre of 1920 and The Irish Civil W The complexities and tragedy of 20th century Irish history are skillfully conveyed by Renny deGroot in this readable and intelligent historical fiction novel. Beginning in 1916 at the time of the Easter Rising we follow the tortuous and bloody path to the creation of the Irish Free State by following the equally tortuous and conflicted life of journalist Emmet Ryan. All the major events are here. The rising itself, the subsequent suppression, the Croke Park massacre of 1920 and The Irish Civil War of 1922-23 where former colleagues found themselves on opposing sides leading to a lifetime of bitterness. The book concludes in 1943 with Emmet 's daughter in Belfast, continuing without her family's knowledge a cause that had by then become disowned by many of its former adherents. The writing gives an indication of time and place and some of the main issues involved in a far from straight forward story. It shows above all else the devastating effect conflict plays in the life of ordinary people. Whether you have a good understanding of the period or indeed none then this book will equally appeal and is recommended if you have a liking of historical fiction.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    Netgalley Pub date November 14, 2019 Received Feb 27, 2020 BooksGoSocial

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mary Yarde

    "Ireland should belong to the Irish." Was that such a difficult concept to understand? It seemed rather simple to the men in the Ryan family. Emmet Ryan was determined to follow in the footsteps of his father and his elder brothers and join the Fingal Volunteers despite what his mother might say on the subject. He was sixteen, he was a man, and he was determined to be a part of Éirí Amach na Cásca, The Easter Rising. Even after the subsequent internment of the Fingal Volunteers, Emmet felt that T "Ireland should belong to the Irish." Was that such a difficult concept to understand? It seemed rather simple to the men in the Ryan family. Emmet Ryan was determined to follow in the footsteps of his father and his elder brothers and join the Fingal Volunteers despite what his mother might say on the subject. He was sixteen, he was a man, and he was determined to be a part of Éirí Amach na Cásca, The Easter Rising. Even after the subsequent internment of the Fingal Volunteers, Emmet felt that The Cause was worth the danger, worth the sacrifice. It was way past the time for Ireland to become an independent republic free from British rule. However, there was more than one way to win a war. Emmet was clever, quick. He could do more damage with a pen and paper than he could with a gun. And although being a journalist did not seem quite as glamorous as the war his brother, Kevin, and his best friend, Liam, fought, it was still incredibly important. Emmet loved Ireland. He was of Ireland. Ireland was in his blood. The Cause justified the means. But then on one auspicious evening down the pub, Liam pointed out a young woman whose red hair cascaded in waves down her back, and Emmet would soon find himself wondering — if he had to choose between The Cause and those he loved, which would he choose? From the fanciful patriotic excitement of a sixteen-year-old boy on the eve of the 1916 Easter Rising to the 1943 Commemoration of the Rising at the Broadway Cinema, Torn Asunder by Renny deGroot is the story of one young man as he navigates life, love, family, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). With an enthralling narrative that left my heart pounding in fearful anticipation for the protagonists and a story that is as compelling as it is powerful, Torn Asunder is a fabulous work of fiction set during an extraordinary violent time in Irish history. Through deGroot's carefully crafted prose, I felt as if I had been transported back in time to the early 20th Century and was witnessing the events that led up to the Irish Civil War and beyond. Not only does deGroot tell the story of Emmet Ryan with an impressive sweep and brilliance, but she also has a novelist’s understanding of what makes history worth reading. This novel is tautly gripping, so much so that I found it near on impossible to put down. This is the kind of book that demands your attention and certainly commands your respect. The historical detailing of this book has to be commended. deGroot depicts this period in history with a confidence that can only be gained by many long hours of research. Reading this book was effortless, I am sure the hours of research that went into it was not, but it has certainly paid off. There is an authority in deGroot's writing, an assurance that deGroot knows what she is talking about. Torn Asunder is a truly gripping account of family, war, and to an extent, historical controversy. And what a story it is. The story is told, for the most part, from Emmet Ryan's perspective. Emmet is an unlikely hero. He is swept up in the patriotic fever that gripped the nation and his family. He is determined to do his bit for The Cause, but he realises very quickly that he might not be suited to a soldier's life. Emmet is an intellect. He is uncommonly good with words, which makes him the ideal commentator, the voice behind the speeches. His press pass also means he has access to places that others cannot enter. Emmet is, however, a very honourable man, and he wants to be both a patriot and a husband. His passion for The Cause never leaves, despite the many things that happen in this book. His dismay at the Anglo-Irish Treaty and in particular the fact that Ireland was split between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland was a bitter pill for him to swallow, as it was for many. He is steadfast in his beliefs, and despite life getting in the way of The Cause, he does remain a loyal disciple. I thought Emmet's depiction was brilliant. He believes in what he is fighting for wholeheartedly, and yet he is also rational enough to know when to take a step back. Another character who becomes more prevalent in the second half of this book is Emmet's daughter, Maeve. Maeve grew up with stories of the Easter Rising and the subsequent Civil War, and although Emmet told his tales because he wants his children to be proud of their heritage, Maeve takes the stories to heart a little more than what Emmet had expected. Maeve is a young woman who knows her own mind but is heavily influenced by her father and her Uncle Liam. However, neither men want Maeve to become involved with the IRA, it is too dangerous. I adored Maeve. She is this wonderful woman who is determined to do her bit, however small, to help her country. Her relationship with Daniel, a young English man, is also incredibly sweet — it is full of starlight and first kisses. This is a young heroine that takes up her father's story and The Cause with determination, but she is also wise enough to know, as her father was, when to walk away. There are, as you would expect, some historical figures in this book — from Sir Roger Casement to Michael Collins, and although many of these names are mentioned only in passing, they still, especially in Collins' case, unwittingly drive the narrative in this story. Torn Asunder by Renny deGroot is a fabulous novel that not only captured my attention but kept it throughout. It is immensely readable and absolutely irresistible. When historical fiction is written in such a way, then there is no such thing as too much. I Highly Recommend. Review by Mary Anne Yarde. The Coffee Pot Book Club.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharron Elkouby

    Torn Asunder traces the struggles of three generations of the Ryan Family, set against the background of Ireland's struggle for independence in the first half of the twentieth century. Once again, R. deGroot paints a clear picture of an exciting historic era while creating sympathetic characters so realistic, they jump off the page and tear at our heartstrings. Torn Asunder asks the question: Does one choose country over family, and at what price? Torn Asunder traces the struggles of three generations of the Ryan Family, set against the background of Ireland's struggle for independence in the first half of the twentieth century. Once again, R. deGroot paints a clear picture of an exciting historic era while creating sympathetic characters so realistic, they jump off the page and tear at our heartstrings. Torn Asunder asks the question: Does one choose country over family, and at what price?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Torn Asunder by Renny DeGroot was an interesting story about a man and his association with the movement of Irish independence. It begins the weekend of the Irish Uprising in 1916 and takes us all the way from Emmet being 16 years old through the middle of World War II and his daughter's involvement. The story all takes place in Ireland and certainly helped clarify the entire situation there. It's always being very confusing with people seeming to switch sides regularly. That is certainly not th Torn Asunder by Renny DeGroot was an interesting story about a man and his association with the movement of Irish independence. It begins the weekend of the Irish Uprising in 1916 and takes us all the way from Emmet being 16 years old through the middle of World War II and his daughter's involvement. The story all takes place in Ireland and certainly helped clarify the entire situation there. It's always being very confusing with people seeming to switch sides regularly. That is certainly not the case. The story also makes clear that some people grow out o f their youthful passion and fight in subtler, less violent ways. Maeve, Emmet's daughter is drawn in by a friend at university, and enabled by her father's lifelong friend, Emmet. Because the story covered so much time, it was very episodic and the mundane was left out. So were many of the reasons that Emmet changed his thoughts on the situations. It didn't delve into Emmet's marriage at all, which was a huge motivator for him. It was and interesting and emotional book. People are still fighting this war, one that has been going on for hundreds of years. It was interesting and relatively easy to read. I recommend it for lovers of anything Irish as well as historical fiction aficionados. I received a free ARC of Torn Asunder from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions and interpretations contained herein are solely my own. #netgalley #tornasunder

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Jack

    I am an Irish-American who actually studied one summer in Dublin, Ireland. So I definitely found myself curious about this book when I saw it at a book review site. The author has managed to strike the balance between showing an accurate history and showing its effects on one man and his family. The first several pages detail the list of actual historical persons mentioned in the book. Reading it is like reading a mini history of the attempted Irish Revolution that happened in the early years of I am an Irish-American who actually studied one summer in Dublin, Ireland. So I definitely found myself curious about this book when I saw it at a book review site. The author has managed to strike the balance between showing an accurate history and showing its effects on one man and his family. The first several pages detail the list of actual historical persons mentioned in the book. Reading it is like reading a mini history of the attempted Irish Revolution that happened in the early years of the 20th century. That small section is densely packed with information, but I felt it was a great preamble as it clearly lay the foundation of what was to come. But novels like this aren't just about history, of course. It's about how history affects people, and this book did that very well. The main character, in particular, struggled in a believable way with his responsibilities that he felt toward his family and toward his country, which were at times irreconcilable. The author succeeded in making this historical period come alive. I love it when books do that. History truly is not as dry as school textbooks make it. History was lived by real people just like us, and seeing history through their eyes—even fictional ones—allows us a deeper understanding of the past. I received a free copy of this book, but that did not affect my review. My book blog: https://www.readingfanaticreviews.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mary Markstrom

    I was attracted to this book because I am fascinated by Irish history. My mother was Irish and I remember her stories about this period of Irish history. Names like Michael Collins, Devalera, the battle of Ashbourne and Fingal's Volunteers are all familiar to me and this book brought it to life. I remember my mother singing about Kevin Barry and Shaun South who are also mentioned in the book. The characters are engaging and I Felt involved with them. Added to this was an absorbing narrative. The I was attracted to this book because I am fascinated by Irish history. My mother was Irish and I remember her stories about this period of Irish history. Names like Michael Collins, Devalera, the battle of Ashbourne and Fingal's Volunteers are all familiar to me and this book brought it to life. I remember my mother singing about Kevin Barry and Shaun South who are also mentioned in the book. The characters are engaging and I Felt involved with them. Added to this was an absorbing narrative. The main character is Emmet whose struggle for Irish independence cost him his job as a journalist and caused his prospective father-in-law grave reservations about allowing him to marry his daughter, the lovey Bridie. The second part of the book focused on Maeve, who unlike her brothers was fascinated by her father's stories of his younger days as a rebel. This led her into dangerous situations which nearly cost her her life. The book ends with conflict and betrayal surrounding Daniel, the young English soldier. I very much enjoyed this book and am glad I bought it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dave Wickenden

    Torn Asunder is in-depth look at the Irish Fight for freedom starting from the Easter Rising in 1916 until 1943 as seen through the lens of one patriotic family. It begins with Emmet Ryan, who at 16 yrs takes part in the Easter Rising with his father and brothers. He witnesses the horror of men being killed as they attempt to cut the bonds of British rule. As some enter the dark and vicious fight, Young Emmet fights for the cause through his words as a journalist. He keeps an accurate account of Torn Asunder is in-depth look at the Irish Fight for freedom starting from the Easter Rising in 1916 until 1943 as seen through the lens of one patriotic family. It begins with Emmet Ryan, who at 16 yrs takes part in the Easter Rising with his father and brothers. He witnesses the horror of men being killed as they attempt to cut the bonds of British rule. As some enter the dark and vicious fight, Young Emmet fights for the cause through his words as a journalist. He keeps an accurate account of the struggle and uses his words to raise funds for the cause. The story shows the epic struggle of regular people wanting nothing more than to rule themselves as free people. The sacrifice, pain and terror are front and center in this moving account that follows the real historical events. The author’s knowledge of the events, the people and the language makes this story stand out. It will be part of me for some time to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bob McCrillis

    Renny deGroot has managed to sneak a whole lot of wonderful Irish history into a compelling tale of competing principles. Just how far should one go for a cause before retreating to home and hearth? How can one not admire Emmett's willingness to shed blood for his beliefs but when is enough enough? Growing up with stories of the Easter Rising and the Civil war in the 1920's, I never thought about the wives and families of these heroes or how difficult it must have been to turn their backs on the Renny deGroot has managed to sneak a whole lot of wonderful Irish history into a compelling tale of competing principles. Just how far should one go for a cause before retreating to home and hearth? How can one not admire Emmett's willingness to shed blood for his beliefs but when is enough enough? Growing up with stories of the Easter Rising and the Civil war in the 1920's, I never thought about the wives and families of these heroes or how difficult it must have been to turn their backs on their loved ones. deGroot's characters are real people, warts and all. His novel is, at one level, and exciting adventure and, on another, poses thought-provoking questions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    A_Place_In The_Orchard

    An enthralling look at Ireland through one of the most turbulent periods in her history, as shocking as some of he episodes related are shameful, and though the history itself is disguised as literary fiction, that does not buttress the reader from the knowledge that a lot of the events described here (or something very similar to them) actually happened. Routinely. the book is, perhaps, a little overlong, and it's easy to lose your way inside the story. But overall, it's well worth your time. An An enthralling look at Ireland through one of the most turbulent periods in her history, as shocking as some of he episodes related are shameful, and though the history itself is disguised as literary fiction, that does not buttress the reader from the knowledge that a lot of the events described here (or something very similar to them) actually happened. Routinely. the book is, perhaps, a little overlong, and it's easy to lose your way inside the story. But overall, it's well worth your time. And your tears.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    What a captivating, passionate and interesting novel! Set in Ireland from 1916 till ca. 1952, we experience first hand Irish fights towards independence. Some fight with their (armed) fists, others with their spoken and written words. Are you a coward if you don't take arms? Or do words carry more weight? What consequences bear on a family man? A page-turner, this novel is also well of information about Ireland's history. A great read. What a captivating, passionate and interesting novel! Set in Ireland from 1916 till ca. 1952, we experience first hand Irish fights towards independence. Some fight with their (armed) fists, others with their spoken and written words. Are you a coward if you don't take arms? Or do words carry more weight? What consequences bear on a family man? A page-turner, this novel is also well of information about Ireland's history. A great read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pam Chantrell

    This book was very well researched and well written in an easily read format. Covering several decades of Irish history in the early to mid 20th century, I felt that I learned a lot about the background to "The Troubles" and the feelings that were present at the time. The characters were well drawn and well rounded and I became invested in their stories and situations that they found themselves in. I read this in one day and was sad when it ended. Recommended. This book was very well researched and well written in an easily read format. Covering several decades of Irish history in the early to mid 20th century, I felt that I learned a lot about the background to "The Troubles" and the feelings that were present at the time. The characters were well drawn and well rounded and I became invested in their stories and situations that they found themselves in. I read this in one day and was sad when it ended. Recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Koenig

    Slow start but picked up after a few chapters.

  14. 4 out of 5

    gj indieBRAG

    We are proud to announce that TORN ASUNDER by Renny DeGroot is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!

  15. 4 out of 5

    ChillwithabookAWARD With

    Torn Asunder by Renny DeGroot has received a Chill with a Book Readers' Premier Award. www.chillwithabook.com Torn Asunder by Renny DeGroot has received a Chill with a Book Readers' Premier Award. www.chillwithabook.com

  16. 4 out of 5

    anne kearney

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Aplin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tony

  19. 5 out of 5

    Donna Kelly

  20. 4 out of 5

    Renny deGroot

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mick Hawkins

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Sansone

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hendricus dudink

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Gibson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Colin Grant

  26. 4 out of 5

    marilyn mcalea

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Perring

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Todd

  29. 5 out of 5

    A.I.Rabinowitz

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

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