Eden Burning by Deirdre Quiery #BookReview #BlogTour

Catapulting us into 1970s Belfast in the heart of the Troubles, Eden Burning pulses with conflict and introduces us to a cast of characters we profoundly care about, even when they are warring with each other. Above all, though, it is a novel with a true spiritual and emotional heart. --Rachel Connor, bestselling author of Sisterwives

Northern Ireland, 1972. On the Crumlin Road, Belfast, the violent sectarian Troubles have forced Tom Martin to take drastic measures to protect his family. Across the divide William McManus pursues his own particular bloody code, murdering for a cause. Yet both men have underestimated the power of love and an individuals belief in right and wrong, a belief that will shake the lives of both families with a greater impact than any bomb blast. This is a compelling, challenging story of conflict between and within families driven by religion, belief, loyalty and love. In a world deeply riven by division, a world of murders, bomb blasts and assassinations, how can any individual transcend the seemingly inevitable violence of their very existence?

I was delighted to be asked if I'd like to take part in the blog tour for Eden Burning as I've had a copy of the book for ages. Many thanks to Deirdre Quiery, Urbane Books and Kelly from Love Books Tours for the invitation.

Eden Burning opens in January 1972 with Tom Martin asking for unlikely assistance to prevent the murder of Rose and it's clear just how desperately scared he is for her by the lengths he is prepared to go to keep her safe. The reader is then taken back to learn what led to this point with a storyline that reaches back into the earlier years of the 20th century as well as the months preceding Tom's plea for help.
Although the main plot is always leading to that point - and what happens beyond it, Eden Burning is really about the smaller stories which form the lives and deaths of those who live on the Crumlin Road. Deirdre Quiery explores what drives people on both sides of the conflict to become involved in the brutal atrocities and the impact of the fighting and subsequent losses on everyone affected, whether directly or as innocent victims.
Tom, Lily and Rose represent the ordinary families who were just trying to live and survive amidst the rioting, car bombs and revenge attacks. Rose is not their daughter but it is explained why she lives with them and it's through her eyes we see what children and young people grew up with; having to be accompanied by soldiers to and from school, fleeing their homes rather than risk becoming targets of Sectarian attacks, and losing friends to the violence. There is a scene later in the book where she makes what is either a brave and principled or rash and dangerous decision which results in a chilling reminder that bitter, merciless reprisals were inflicted on even the young - and not always by the other side.
It's harder to feel much empathy for William McManus and his son, Cedric who use their taxi as a cover to identify and entrap their Catholic victims but their sense of anger and emptiness is explored further, revealing sad truths about who they are and what drives them to become merciless killers. More painful perhaps, is the impact on William's wife, Eileen and especially on their younger son, Peter who is a principled young man with dreams of going to Queen's University but is tricked into becoming involved in the murders. Regardless of sides, there is a sense throughout that these are people who are yearning to understand their place in the world and their fear of what change to that might mean.
As the book progresses, there becomes almost a sad inevitability to the fates of newly introduced characters as the stark reality of the civilian death toll is made terrifyingly real. Throughout the novel, however, there are also more introspective moments where characters are able to find some sort of peace and solace, often through their faith. Towards the end it becomes clear that although their respective hopes, fears and beliefs have driven them apart, they have more in common than they would have expected. The series of events which leads to the tense conclusion does depend a little on the reader accepting a number of coincidences but there can be no doubting that it results in an exciting and emotional denoument.
I was born in 1972 so grew up knowing something of the Troubles, particularly as my uncle worked as a civilian mechanic for the British Army and so knew the security precautions he had to take. Nevertheless, I don't believe that those of us who witnessed events from afar could ever really know what it was truly like to grow up with and live through the conflict, which is why books like Eden Burning are so important as they reveal the human lives behind the headlines, statistics and violence. This powerful, poignant novel is clearly written from the heart and in light of recent news events is a vital reminder of those terrible decades and why it is imperative that all steps are taken to prevent more bloodshed.

Eden Burning is published by Urbane Publications and can be purchased from Amazon or help support independent bookstores by buying through Hive.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Based in Mallorca where she runs Seven Rocks Consulting, a leadership development consultancy she founded with her husband, Deirdre brings her vast experience of emotional intelligence and mindfulness to bear in her creative endeavours. Taking inspiration from experience, Deirdre has not only painted with Argentinian artist Carlos Gonzalez in Palma and Natalia Spitale in Sóller, she is also a winner of the Alexander Imich Prize in the US for writing about exceptional human experiences, and the Birmingham Trophy Prize in the UK. Eden Burning was Deirdre’s first novel and was shaped by her experiences growing up in Belfast during the Troubles. She recently published The Secret Wound, a compelling exploration of relationships in a community of ex-pats.
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