Note: A tribute to St. Patrick’s Day. This review by Mark Probst originally appeared in Speak its Name, April 15, 2009.
Story blurb: Two Irish Lads is a pioneer story with a difference. It is at once a carefully-researched depiction of pioneer life in the early part of the nineteenth century, and also a love story of two men who might have lived during such a challenging time.
Sean and Patrick McConaghy are two young cousins who set sail from Ireland one St. Patrick’s Day in 1820, and after a long and eventful crossing of the Atlantic, they tackle the mighty St. Lawrence River with a band of rugged voyageurs to eventually settle in the wilderness of Upper Canada.
Here they are not only confronted by the daunting task of carving a homestead out of the vast primeval forest, but also the ever-present danger of living as a devoted couple in a world where the possibilities of humiliation and death stalked them at every turn if their secret should ever be discovered.
It is a tale that also encompasses mystery, tragedy, brawling, humour and pathos, and altogether it will have you turning pages to discover what is about to happen next.
About the author: Gerry Burnie is a dedicated Canadian author, best known for his historical fictions, Two Irish Lads, and Nor All Thy Tears: Journey to Big Sky. Now retired, he has had a long and varied career. For twenty-five years prior to his retirement, he lectured on the topics of political science and law, and then turned his interest to history for a further five years. In addition, he has been an actor, singer, dancer, artist and a municipal politician at various times in his life.
Gerry Burnie’s Two Irish Lads is a quaint tale of second cousins Sean and Patrick McConaghy who migrate to Canada from their homeland of Ireland in the year 1820. With their life’s savings they intended to buy some land in “upper Canada” (the area now known as Ontario) and make a good life as farmers with the hope of prosperity.
Once they arrive they visit the land office and select a choice piece of property. With a few supplies and a tent, they take on the task of clearing the land, hoping to build a shelter before winter. The two lads eventually realize they are in love. One of the settlement’s wealthy leaders, Nealon, takes them under his wing, giving them advice, arranging a cabin-raising for them, and even getting Sean a job as a schoolmaster. It is soon revealed that he has an ulterior motive in that he hopes they might marry his two daughters.
There are a few harsh realities through which they must persevere, before all the dust settles, but I won’t spoil it by revealing any more.
The story is written in the style of Sean’s daily journal. While the first few chapters do indeed read like an authentic journal, thankfully Burnie then shifts to more of a first-person narrative than how a real journal would read, but that is simply to accommodate the storytelling process.
Burnie’s knowledge and research shine through in that the story beautifully describes 19th century Irish customs and decorum. He even uses a few Gaelic phrases, always with translation, and the dialog sounds so right you can practically hear the Irish brogue.
I thought the characters were well-developed and exuded a great deal of charm. Sean was the leader and sensible one, whereas the younger Patrick was more carefree and daring. While he yearned to be able to be open and proclaim his “secret love” to the world, he deferred to Sean’s wisdom and together they balanced each other out. The details of frontier life were also well researched, and the descriptions were vivid enough to give us a good picture of the landscapes and the settlements.
My quibbles are minor – I’d have liked to see more of Sean actually teaching the children, and I felt there were a few times some of the characters were just a little too perky for my taste.
I really enjoyed Two Irish Lads. It suits my personal taste of an upbeat depiction of frontier life, and I especially like stories where people come together to help each other and fight against the evils that threaten them. I look forward to reading more from this gifted author.
If you would like to learn more about my other books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.
March 12, 2011 Posted by Gerry B. | Canadian author, Canadian content, Canadian frontier stories, Canadian historical content, Canadian Irish tradition, Coming out, Fiction, gay cousins, Gay fiction, Gay historical fiction, Gay Literature, gay pioneer christmas, Gay romance, Historical Fiction, Historical period, Homesteading in Canada, Irish pioneers in Canada, M/M love and adventure, Sea voyage from Ireland | 1 Comment
The views expressed herein are my own and may not reflect the views of others.
To request a book review or to contact me, email:
Notes of interest:
1. Note: To avoid disappointment, the genres considered for review are:
a) GLBT fiction and non-fiction, b) GBLT-related biographies and autobiographies, c) GBLT historical fiction and non-fiction. d) Canadian content, e) Frontier tales, f) Biographies and autobiographies.
2. Due to Amazon's policy of arbitrarily deleting reviews without notice, I do not post reviews to Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Goodreads.
Instead, you can find my reviews on Indigo Books.ca, Stumble upon, Barnes & Noble, and Google Books.
If you have other sites you wish to suggest, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Search this site
Top Posts (past 24 hrs.)
- Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, by Tab Hunter with Eddie Muller
- Dominus, by JP Kenwood
- Sandals and Sodomy (An anthology)
- Wild Canadian West, by E.C. (Ted) Meyers
- Real Justice: Guilty of Being Weird: The story of Guy Paul Morin, by Cynthia J. Faryon
- The Sacred Band, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris
- Counterpoint: Dylan's Story, by Ruth Sims
- Bonds of Earth, by G.N. Chevalier
- Walking Wounded, by Lee Rowan
- White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America, by Don Jordan, Michael Walsh
- Irresponsible Government: The Decline of Parliamentary Democracy in Canada, by Brent Rathgeber
- Dominus, by JP Kenwood
- Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, by James Daschuk
- Collide, by J.R. Lenk
- The Trouble With Tony (Sex in Seattle #1), by Eli Easton
- Lovers in Arms, by Osiris Brackhaus
- Red Dirt Heart (Red Dirt #1), by N.R. Walker
- Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men About More-or-Less Gay Life, by Wendell Ricketts
- Vamp, by Rob Rosen
- The One for Me, by Hollis Shiloh
- What About Me?: The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society, by Paul Verhaeghe
- The Way of Men, by Jack Donovan
- Stanley Park: A Novel, by Timothy Taylor
- Native: A Novel, by William Haywood Henderson
- Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, by Paul Monette
- The Medici Boy, by by John L’Heureux
- Canadian Hook-Up: Gay Erotica, by Dick Parker
- One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva
- Justice in an Age of Metal and Men, by Anthony W. Eichenlaub
- Rangers, by Nate Tanner
- River of the Brokenhearted, by David Adams Richards
- Real Good Man (Canadian Heroes #2) by Elise Whyles
- Trails Plowed Under by Charles M. Russell
- The Reluctant Berserker, by Alex Beecroft
- While England Sleeps, by David Leavitt
- Island: The Complete Stories, by Alistair MacLeod
- The Forgotten Founders: Rethinking The History Of The Old West, by Stewart L. Udall (Author), David Emmons (Foreword)
- Vivaldi in the Dark (Vivaldi in the Dark #1) by Matthew J. Metzger
- Well Traveled (Gideon and Jedediah #1) by Margaret Mills, Tedy Ward
- One Boy’s Shadow, by Ross A. McCoubrey
- Brothers of the Wild North Sea, by Harper Fox
- White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain’s White Slaves in America, by Don Jordan, Michael Walsh
- King of the Celts, by Rose Christo
- The Serpent’s Tongue, by Dorien Grey
- Thoreau in Love, by John Schuyler Bishop
- The Door Behind Us, by John C. Houser
- The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, by Christina Hoff Sommers
- I Am John I Am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome, by Mark Tedesco
- A Place to Call Their Own, by L. Dean Pace-Frech
- A Shiny Tin Star, by Jon Wilson
- Fish: A Memoir of a Boy in a Man’s Prison, by T.J. Parsell
- A Handful of Blossoms, by Lara Biyuts
- 2013 in review
- The Cartographer of No Man’s Land: A Novel by P.S. Duffy
- Rocky Mountain Christmas, by Michael Barnette
- Some Canadian Christmas Selections
- Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality, by Jonathan Ned Katz
- The Boy I Love, by Marion Husband
- Homesteads and Horseradish, by Kiernan Kelly
- Real Men Ride Horses, by Ken Shakin
- October 2014 (3)
- September 2014 (5)
- August 2014 (4)
- July 2014 (4)
- June 2014 (5)
- May 2014 (4)
- April 2014 (4)
- March 2014 (5)
- February 2014 (4)
- January 2014 (4)
- December 2013 (7)
- November 2013 (4)
- October 2013 (4)
- September 2013 (5)
- August 2013 (4)
- July 2013 (5)
- June 2013 (5)
- May 2013 (4)
- April 2013 (5)
- March 2013 (4)
- February 2013 (4)
- January 2013 (4)
- December 2012 (6)
- November 2012 (4)
- October 2012 (5)
- September 2012 (4)
- August 2012 (4)
- July 2012 (5)
- June 2012 (4)
- May 2012 (4)
- April 2012 (4)
- March 2012 (5)
- February 2012 (5)
- January 2012 (6)
- December 2011 (4)
- November 2011 (3)
- October 2011 (5)
- September 2011 (4)
- August 2011 (4)
- July 2011 (5)
- June 2011 (4)
- May 2011 (6)
- April 2011 (4)
- March 2011 (4)
- February 2011 (4)
- January 2011 (5)
- December 2010 (5)
- November 2010 (6)
- October 2010 (5)
- September 2010 (4)
- August 2010 (5)
- July 2010 (4)
- June 2010 (4)
- May 2010 (6)
- April 2010 (4)
- March 2010 (6)
- February 2010 (5)
- January 2010 (10)
John Cox on The Trouble With Tony (Sex in… Reviews and Where to… on The Second Ring, by Anthony… Gerry B. on Queer Cowboys – Chris… smslån 2000 on Queer Cowboys – Chris… Gerry B. on The One for Me, by Hollis…