Thursday 18 May 2023

The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O'Flanagan BLOG TOUR #TheWomanontheBridge @sheilaoflanagan @headlinepg @RandomTTours #BookReview


In her first historical novel, Sheila O'Flanagan tells the dramatic and poignant story of a young woman caught up in Ireland's fight for freedom. An unputdownable novel inspired by the true story of Sheila's grandmother

Dublin. The 1920s. As war tears Ireland apart, two young people are caught up in events that will bring love, tragedy - and the hardest of choices.

In a country fighting for freedom, it's hard to live a normal life. Winnie O'Leary supports the cause, but she doesn't go looking for trouble. Then rebel Joseph Burke steps into her workplace. Winnie is furious with him about a broken window. She's not interested in romance, but love comes when you least expect it.

Joseph's family shelter fugitives and transport weapons. Joseph would never ask Winnie to join the fight; but his mother and sisters demand commitment. Will Winnie choose Joseph, and put her own loved ones in deadly danger? Or wait for a time of peace that may never come?

Ireland's tumultuous independence struggle is the backdrop for an unforgettable story of courage and heartbreak, where heroes are made of ordinary people.

The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O'Flanagan was published on 27 April 2023 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

I have been reading Sheila O'Flanagan's novels for almost half of my life. I have read every one of her books and always enjoy beginning a new story from her. Her novels are usually contemporary fiction, always based around Irish characters and there's more than a bit of romance and domestic strife built into her books. 

When I heard that her latest book was going to be her first venture into historical fiction, and that she had based the story on her own grandparents, I was intrigued. My own Mum was Irish, and I was brought up in England. In school we were never taught about the history of Ireland, and the relationship with England, but my Mum made sure that I was fully versed on it! 

Set in Dublin in the 1920s, a time of great unrest and trouble in the city, and in the whole of the country, the story centres around Winnie and Joseph. Winnie is nineteen, the only one of her sisters still living at home, and working in a drapers shop. Left alone one day, whilst the owner goes off to visit her in laws, Winnie is shocked when a stone flies through the shop window. She's slightly hurt and the silk fabric, and the window is ruined. Cowering in fear, she hears a man enter the shop.

This is Winnie and Joseph's first meeting. Two young people, both feeling the same way about Irish independence, but coming from very different backgrounds. Winnie and her family tend to steer clear of trouble, whilst Joseph's family and in the middle of everything. Not only is Joseph a Volunteer for the cause, but his family harbour wanted men and women, along with weapons.

As they become closer, Winnie has to make hard decisions. Will her heart win? Will she sacrifice a quiet life? All will be revealed. 

Whilst this is a love story in the truest sense, it is also a sensitively portrayed look at Ireland's history and how the country was torn apart by the different beliefs of its people. O' Flanagan has taken her grandparents stories and woven a magical, fascinating novel from them. 

The reader watches as Winnie grows in character, and accompanies her as the fighting rages on around her. 

I really enjoyed this book and hope that the author will continue to write historical fiction, although I do also hope that she doesn't abandon her contemporary stories completely! 

Sheila O'Flanagan is the author of 30 bestselling novels including What Eden Did Next, Three Weddings and a Proposal, The Women Who Ran Away, Her Husband's Mistake, The Hideaway and The Missing Wife. 

She lives in Dublin with her husband.

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