The Canal Bridge: A Novel of Ireland, Love, and the First World War

The Canal Bridge A Novel of Ireland Love and the First World War In before there is a rumor of war in Europe Matthias Wrenn and Con Hatchel lifelong friends from Ballyrannel in the Irish midlands decide to see the world at the expense of the king of Englan

  • Title: The Canal Bridge: A Novel of Ireland, Love, and the First World War
  • Author: Tom Phelan
  • ISBN: -
  • Page: 122
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • In 1913, before there is a rumor of war in Europe, Matthias Wrenn and Con Hatchel, lifelong friends from Ballyrannel in the Irish midlands, decide to see the world at the expense of the king of England and join the British army A year later, while en route to India, their troop ship is recalled and they soon find themselves in the European slaughterhouse that was World WaIn 1913, before there is a rumor of war in Europe, Matthias Wrenn and Con Hatchel, lifelong friends from Ballyrannel in the Irish midlands, decide to see the world at the expense of the king of England and join the British army A year later, while en route to India, their troop ship is recalled and they soon find themselves in the European slaughterhouse that was World War I As stretcher bearers, the two men witness all too closely the horrors of the battlefield and the trenches, the savagery, and the unconscionable waste of human life on fields made liquid by the blood and guts of boy soldiers at the Somme, Ypres, and Passchendaele Meanwhile, back home in Ireland, Con s sister and Matthias s lover, Kitty Hatchel, yearns for their safe return and reminds them of their carefree childhood on the banks of the local canal, as well as their hopes for the future.Brilliantly and movingly narrated by a chorus of voices from the community Matt, Con, Kitty, and others The Canal Bridge tells the story of how the young men take Ballyrannel to war with them, and how the war comes back home when hostilities end in Europe The Ireland the friends left in 1913 no longer exists, for the political landscape has been transformed by the Rising against the British in 1916 It is now a land riven with sectarian tensions and bloodshed from which there is no escape.

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      122 Tom Phelan


    About “Tom Phelan

    • Tom Phelan

      Tom Phelan was born and raised on a farm in County Laois, Ireland His first novel was published to critical acclaim when he was fifty His novels include In the Season of the Daisies, Iscariot, Derrycloney, and Nailer He now lives in New York.



    787 thoughts on “The Canal Bridge: A Novel of Ireland, Love, and the First World War

    • Feel free to write off this review as the bias of a cranky, old man with ancestral roots in the northern part of the divided island, but The Canal Bridge A Novel of Ireland, Love, and the First World War seemed like a brilliantly poetic idealization of carnage, criminal fanaticism, and suffering The carnage was not exclusive to the War to End All Wars, the criminal fanaticism was the selfish twisting of the Fenian cause to serve one s personal ambition, and the suffering was physical, emotional, [...]


    • A very Irish, and very heartbreaking, tale of World War I Glossary of Irish slang included at the back if needed, and the author never uses one simile when four or six will do Nevertheless, it was compelling and as anti War in its own way as The Things They Carried was for Vietnam The horror is explicit and graphic but very well done.



    • At the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, despite years of simmering anti British feeling, Irish young men joined the British armed forces in the tens of thousands During the course of the war over 200,000 served in English uniform, many others with Australian and Canadian units Then in April, 1916, 21 months into the 51 month conflict, came the Easter Rising in Dublin 116 dead British army troops and 318 Irish civilians or rebels, fifteen rebel leaders executed by firing squad, swiftly re [...]


    • A quarter million Irish men served in the British army in WWI, fighting the Germans While these men were dying in the trenches, a small band of their countrymen in Dublin rebelled in 1916 against the British, claiming the SUPPORT of Germany The latter men have been heroicized, while those fighting in the war came home to a country whose political landscape had changed Author Phelan knew many of these veterans when he was a child growing up on a farm in Ireland, and in writing THE CANAL BRIDGE he [...]


    • What struck me most about Phelan s novel about love in WWI was how real it felt There was no real moment where I felt like there has been not a single real instance where a character s opinion about their situation was reflecting a specific political outcome a lot of the times, the realness of a character s reaction went hand in hand with their situation or their response It does make me want to read something from the IRA point of view, since Phelan s characters are very staunchly anti IRA, but [...]


    • 3.5 a powerful story underlies the narrative, but by skipping times and places and shifting points of view, the narrative loses its oomph a technical term, right The great love between Kitty and Matthias survives the first great war Memories made in the first chapters alongside the canal that separated their homes offer comfort and strength through the war and calls Matt home The divisions between the Irish that began just before they left flame up, and an old enemy leads a deadly attack on the [...]


    • Kitty, her brother Con, and his best friend Matthias were inseparable They lived by a canal in a small town in Ireland, and grew up singing how their side was the best side Amusing themselves on the canal, in the canal and on the towpath beside it, their lives revolved around each other and the canal Read the rest of my review on my blog Should I read it or Not shouldireaditornot.wordpress.c


    • This book is a coming of age story set in a small politically charged Irish village It is told in 3 sections by different members of the community about what happens when two friends join the British army just before WW1 to see the world The story recounts in vivid detail the horrors of the fighting in Belgium around Ypres and how lives were changed for those who returned to Ireland No soft soaping here I could not put it down


    • Powerful, very moving, beautifully written In The Canal Bridge, Irish writer Tom Phelan tells the story of two young Irish men who join the British army so that they can see the world but end up as stretcher bearers in the trenches of World War I The book jacket offers this quote The best novel of love in the time of war since Cold Mountain I believe The Canal Bridge to be superior In all, an unforgettable novel.


    • Unexpectedly goodThis is a narrative from several characters viewpoints It took me until halfway through the novel to become interested in the story But then I became invested in the character s, and followed them through the War It has the same disillusionment of war that Rilke s All Quiet on the Western Front and Hemingway s A Farewell to Arms had, and it s ending has the poignancy of Steinbeck s Of Mice and Men.


    • The story of three best friends during times of upheaval and conflict, pre and post World War I in Ireland The format is of single stories connecting together with cleverly woven details The character s voices are true, real and filled with passion Be prepared for the descriptive horrors soldiers experienced in the trenches of Flanders and the Somme.


    • A great story from start to finish The tale centers on three friends, two boys and one girl and their coming of age in Ireland just as WWI breaks out The boys go off to fight for the English The girl stays behind to pray for their safe return Only one comes back and he must face the terrors of war and the hatred of some of his countrymen while fighting to find love and redemption.


    • Wanted to be than it was Each section being a different POV is interesting but also a hindrance since the characters always seem to be at arm s length If you pick up a book set in Ireland, you can bet it will be tragic, and this one is no exception This one almost tries too hard.



    • This is a very moving story But be forewarned, the descriptions of death and suffering in World War I are graphic and horrible.


    • I truly liked this book, I normally read a different genre but this was an excellent book, highly recommend it




    • Canal BrdgeA very good story of war and love However, a very harsh and grotesque picture of World war 1, and a truly sad story.


    • Suffering, carnage, life This is a book that makes you think This book is for the readers of historical fiction About the reality of living in a harsh time About the survivors.


    • OutstandingI found the first person narrative from the perspective of several characters effective in getting reader to feel the story I highly recommend this book.


    • Lyrical and horrifyingly realistic The descriptions of trench warfare during WWI will turn your stomach and the human relationships will break your heart.


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