The Emerald Ballads by B.J Hoff
First Book: Song of a Silent Harp
General Age I would recommend it to: 14+
Categories: Historical Fiction
Don’t you just love it when you find a book and you just get completely absorbed in it? I picked up the Emerald Ballads last summer and I am so glad I did. They are that type of book you just get lost in. I would start reading them and just keep reading for a solid hour or more.They are just great.
Opening the first book was like opening a portal to Ireland and New York in the 1840’s. The five book series focuses on famine and British oppression in Ireland, and the mass amounts of immigration to American or “the Golden Country”. It delves into historical and political problems through eyes of many different characters. There is Morgan Fitzgerald a Irish patriot and poet passionate about liberating Ireland. There is Nora Kavanaugh, widowed from the Irish potato famine seeking a better life in America for her and her only living son, Daniel John. There is Michael Burke,a New York police man who immigrated from Ireland years ago.
The story opens with the Irish potato famine and the misery that Ireland is in, it follows Nora as she flees to America. She struggles, most of her family died in the famine and she is traveling to a new and strange home with not only her teenage son but her best friends orphan children. She is welcomed by Michael who was her childhood friend. She stays with his friends, a popular and wealthy aristocrat widower and his daughter. They provide Nora with a job and a place to stay. Her heart is troubled though because Michael wants to marry her. Even though she loves him like a brother her belongs to her other childhood friend Morgan. Though their love never seemed fated to last. Morgan, back in Ireland fights his own constant battle to free, what he calls “the one who holds my heart”, Ireland. His rebellious ways land him in prison and he has many obstacles to face.
There are many other characters all providing a different view into the history of the time. In the book you see the through the eyes of everyone, black and white, rich and poor, young and old. As you read through the five book series you see the characters grow and their lives develop as well as their characters.
I loved this series. It made me cry in the sad parts and it kept me turning pages. It is an intensely historical series, but the author was able to weave the history and the personal story of each character together brilliantly. The book also had a great message about faith. The shows in many of the characters despite the pain, suffering and trials they go through, still cling to God. They cling to the message of his mercy and salvation, His power and sovereignty. The whole series has a message of faith and trust. There was quote that Morgan says that I loved:
“But I come to believe that God’s ways were never meant to be entirely understood. Perhaps the fact that I cannot perceive the reasons for His doing what He does or does not do only serves to point out that I am human, and he is Divine.”
I think that this series is something a lot of people would enjoy. I loved it, but I do think its important to know that this is one of those books that keep getting more interesting as you go along. So if the first chapter doesn’t immediately grab you, keep going, I promise it is worth it. I think that this is a good general guideline :
You will like this book if
- You enjoy Irish culture and history
- You love to read about multiple main characters
- You love amazing stories that touch your heart
- You are really interested in history
You probably won’t if:
- You have a harder time getting through heavy stories
- Are in the mood for something funny or light
- Like stories that stick to one plot line and character
So, has anybody read the Emerald Ballads before, if so what did you think?
Does this book sound interesting?
Let me know your thoughts!