Friday, 9 September 2016

Her Secret Rose by Orna Ross

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel and Blood Rose Angel

What we thought: Book one in a trilogy, Her Secret Rose is a fictionalised biography that follows the first ten years of the relationship between the Irish poet, WB Yeats and his muse, Maud Gonne: revolutionary, feminist and political activist.

Narrated from the point of view of domestic servant, Rosie the author takes us on a fascinating journey behind these public personas into the private, real world of their human strengths and flaws.

In 1889, Yeats is 23 when he meets the beautiful rebel Maud. Through his poetry and her politics, and their shared fascination for the occult, they then embark on a voyage to try and free Ireland from its British chains.

Amidst rebellion, politics, intrigue, and Gonne and Yeats’ passion for Ireland, the author deftly brings to life Dublin, London and Paris of the 1890s as the two flit between the cities. Parts of Yeats’ poems are also woven through the narrative which for me enhanced the ambiance of this magnificently-crafted and well-researched novel.

Before reading Her Secret Rose, all I knew of WB Yeats’ poetry was what I’d learned many years ago at school, and I found this fictionalised biography an excellent and entertaining way to learn more about the poet, both his work and as a person. I also knew next to nothing about Maud Gonne and was intrigued to learn how extraordinary she was, and about the hold she had over Yeats. Through letters, journals and family communication, the author has uncovered quite a different story from the one I learned in school and, after reading this illuminating and entertaining tale, I’m now looking forward to the next in this trilogy.

You’ll like this if you enjoy: Late 19th century romance, mystery and drama, lyrical prose

Avoid if you don’t like: Victorian historical romance

Ideal accompaniments: Cold glass of Guinness

Genre: Historical Literary Fiction

Available on Amazon

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