The Rising of Bella Casey by Mary Morrissy

08:57

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A review copy was provided by Brandon in return for an honest review

A beautiful, enigmatic and harrowing story.

Using a blend of fact and fiction, Sean O Casey, the acclaimed playwright attempts to rise the memory of his sister Bella from the ashes of her past. 

Bella is a clever character but her circumstances in life never seem to allow her to use her brain to its full potential. She excels as a teacher. Nurturing impoverished young minds into believing that they can be more than what they are. That your background doesn't have to define who you are in life. 

Her life is rapidly thrown into disaray by the aptly named reverend Leeper. Her constant refusal of his advances do nothing to extinguish his desire for her. If anything it her "disobedience" fuels his rage and leads him to assaulting her. Bella learns she is with child and eventually looses her beloved position at the school.

Raising a "bastard" child is something that couldn't happen in Ireland. It was the ultimate shame that any girl could bring upon her family. Bella needed someone to take the fall. That someone comes in the form of the handsome Nicholas Beaver. Bella lures him into bed and no questions are asked 9 months latter when Susie is born.

I was so completely engrossed in the story that it came as a shock to be pulled from Bella's world and into Sean's. It was easy to feel his despair. No matter how much we love someone, as time fades so do our memories of them. Bella had such an impact on his life and he struggles to portray this in his writing.

As we continue to follow Bella through numerous child births and evictions it becomes hard to feel for her as person. She is so selfless yet life takes every chance it gets to make life unbearable for her.

This book will stay with you for days after finishing the final page. It would have been so easy to walk past it in the bookshop. It was certainly my historical fiction of the year. I would highly recommend it.

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