Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nell by Jeanette Baker


imagesCAO54HL1He came upon her in the light of the silver moon and knew instantly that they should meet without the trappings of wealth, family, and formality. For in the end, in the sweetly scented darkness, it would be just the two of them. Donal O’Flaherty didn’t see English versus Irish. He saw only Nell, and that was enough.

But Fate had another plan. Soon Nell is swept away to the treacherous Tudor court. Yet through the centuries and across generations, she would prove that neither prison bars nor the hands of time could stop the power of a love meant to be…. (from the back of the book)


First Thoughts After Reading The Blurb: A novel of second chances set in the Tudor Court during the English/Irish conflict sounds like a great read. Plus, I loved Jeanette Baker’s Scottish novels!

First Thoughts After Finishing The Novel: What did I just read?! Does no one check historical facts? Was this really a Jeanette Baker book?

The Plot:

Nell was actually two stories combined into one novel and I strongly believe that should have been two separate books.

Jillian & Frankie

The novel starts with a ten-year-old Jillian ‘Jilly’ Fitzgerald of Kildare Hall, who is a Protestant, developing a crush on fourteen-year-old Francis ‘Frankie’ Maguire who is described as a son of a Catholic working-class kennel keeper.

That was in 1972. The novel then skips to 1974, Jilly’s crush on Frankie is still going strong, and Frankie has started to develop feelings for her although he has other things on his mind such as going to Belfast and joining the IRA. When Frankie returns from Belfast he finds that Jilly’s brother Terrence has gotten his sister, Kathleen, pregnant and an odd turn of events leads to Terrence’s death. Frankie takes the blame and ends up in Long Kesh prison.

The novel then skips to 1979. Frankie has escaped from prison, changed his name to Danny Browne, and married a woman that is not Jilly. Frankie, or rather Danny Browne, is now the chief negotiator for the Sinn Fein. In 1986 Jilly married Avery Graham (the secretary to Northern Ireland who then becomes the acting minister) because he agreed to help her adopt her brother’s child.

In 1994 Jillian’s husband dies then she takes over as acting minister to Northern Ireland, which leads to Jilly and Frankie crossing paths. Although it takes a while for them to admit that they know each other.

Nell & Donal

Through Jillian and Frankie’s story we have the story of another Fitzgerald woman, Nell. Once again, she is Protestant and the man she loves, Donal, is a Catholic, which leads to them being separated then having to fight to find their way back to each other.

My Thoughts:

If the novel would have just focused on the story of Jilly & Frankie and developed it a little more or stuck to historical facts when dealing with Nell & Donal’s story I think that this would have been one of my favorites.

However the historical facts were thrown out the window with Nell & Donal’s story and while the author did say that she has “taken occasional liberty with history in order to create a more evocative and timely story” I feel that these were liberties that ruined the book. And if I am being honest, I skimmed over the majority of Nell’s story because of these liberties were just to over the top.

Just A Few Of The Liberties That Ruined The Book For Me:

-The novel features a very alive Gerald Fitzgerald, the 9th Earl of Kildare, yet the historical part of the novel takes place in 1537 and the Earl actually died in 1534. So, I suppose it should have been the ghost of the 9th Earl of Kildare rather than a living version of him

-Nell was actually Gerald Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, not his daughter, meaning she was young Gerald’s aunt, not his sister.

-Nell did marry a Donal, but not a Donal O’Flaherty. The Donal she married was a McCarty.

-Cardinal Wolsey was not executed. He was however arrested and died in jail.

Time Travel Aspect:

Throughout the novel, the ghost of Nell visits Jilly giving her advice. After Francis gets arrested, Nell takes Jilly back in time so she can gather information about what happened to the Geraldine’s after they were arrested by Henry VIII.

Book Details:

Title: Nell Author: Jeanette Baker

ISBN: 978-1-4022-5589-2

Publisher: Sourcebook Casablanca

Format I Read: Trade Paperback (ebook also available) $12.99

Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Rating: I am not sure how to rate this one.

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

angela new


Laura Fabiani said...

Mmmmm...I'll pass on this one. I like time travel but not in the form of ghosts.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Irish Lady? I read that before reading Nell and did not care for either one.

You should try Frank Delaney for Irish books from this era.