by Marita Conlon-McKenna
Published for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Rebel Sisters is the Number One Irish bestseller from award-winning novelist Marita Conlon-McKenna, who writes with all the emotional depth and warmth of Maeve Binchy.
With the threat of the First World War looming, tension simmers under the surface of Ireland.
Growing up in the privileged confines of Dublin’s leafy Rathmines, the bright, beautiful Gifford sisters Grace, Muriel and Nellie kick against the conventions of their wealthy Anglo-Irish background and their mother Isabella’s expectations. Soon, as war erupts across Europe, the spirited sisters find themselves caught up in their country’s struggle for freedom.
Muriel falls deeply in love with writer Thomas MacDonagh, artist Grace meets the enigmatic Joe Plunkett – both leaders of 'The Rising' – while Nellie joins the Citizen Army and bravely takes up arms, fighting alongside Countess Constance Markievicz in the rebellion.
On Easter Monday, 1916, the biggest uprising in Ireland for two centuries begins. The world of the Gifford sisters and everyone they hold dear will be torn apart in a fight that is destined for tragedy.
Conlon-McKenna's marvellous book could not be more timely. As painful as the story of these three sisters is, it is told with a light and deft hand. Her attention to historical detail is meticulous, her prose is easy and fluid. To tell a tale where the ending is already known and yet hold the reader spellbound throughout is an admirable trait in a writer, and Conlon-McKenna has accomplished this tricky manoeuvre beautifully. It's simply a gripping read.
A deft retelling of the story [of the Easter Rising] . . . Engrossing.
(Irish Sunday Times)
Finally, women are being written back into the history of [Ireland's] awakening . . . There is such a story to tell, and the author skilfully handles her considerable amount of research
(Irish Mail on Sunday)
What is most admirable, most brave about Rebel Sisters, is that Marita Conlon-McKenna has dared to write a book that lacks a hero or heroine. In the violent times of its setting there can be no losers nor winners, only those who survive and those who do not. It is a mark of her moral honesty that Marita Conlon-McKenna does not run from such difficult confusions and conclusions. She will deliver the truth as her story tells it, and in doing so, pay searing testimony to the Giffords’ lives. I congratulate her on a most moving, and indeed necessary book. It is a terrific achievement by a terrific writer