Sarah Hackett – Bookends – The Irish Post
The Killing Snows.
Charles Egan has personalised one of the most tragic periods of Irish history in an interesting and evocative way in his new book, which was launched this month in London.
Whilst ultimately a fictional account, it is based on a series of authentic documents that were passed to Egan by his father, who gave him the ‘box’ containing a lease, two payrolls and three letters which covered the years of the Irish Famine and have been stored for over 100 years.
Cleverly and eloquently, they have been used to create a character based on the great-grand-uncle of the author that explores the struggle and survival of those in the Famine.
Set in 1846, Luke Ryan, the son of a poor farmer in the West of Ireland has returned from England to hope run the family farm. However, he is faced with the growing epidemic and one of the worst snowstorms in Irish history (the Killing Snows of the title).
As one of the few literate workers around Luke is appointed to supervise the road building projects throughout the country, but rather than helping it only serves to alienate him from his own people as their suffering heightens through disease and starvation.
Dealing with his estrangement and the impossibility of forbidden love, Luke is pushed to his emotional limits.
A powerful and compelling story which not only tells the story of Luke and his family, it is also a vital reminder of the fragility of life, love and survival.