Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Journeyman Tailor - Gerald Seymour

Title: The Journeyman Tailor
Author: Gerald Seymour
ISBN: 978-1-444-76025-5
Publisher: Hodder
Year: 1992
Pages: 352
Photographs/Maps: 0

History may be told by many different means: documentaries, historical treatise, papers and of course, historical fiction. Seymour’s novel falls into the latter category. It is considerably more difficult to effectively tell a story within the confines of a historical period because it is incumbent upon the author to not only weave an engaging tale but also to do so within the confines of the setting within which it takes place. Readers of historical fiction will be the first to point out inaccuracies and errors in the setting of the story – far more than within the storyline itself!

It is in this environment that Seymour has woven his tale of Northern Ireland during the time of the troubles. He immerses the reader into the deadly and unforgiving world of the Brits and the Provo’s: its politics, domestic toll, futility and tragedy. The storyline is deep, multi-faceted and reflects the complexities of the unfolding story through multiple lenses. The book has the intricacy of a Leon Uris tale and shares the poignancy of Trinity.

Seymour knows his topic intimately and it is reflected in the subtleties of language and description that add depth and legitimacy to his narrative. The strength of the story is reflected in the fact that the reader easily feels empathy and ire with all of the characters regardless of their political stripe. There are no hero’s in this book, only victims, and it is in that respect that this tale holds the reader and rises above the rest. It is all the more memorable for it.

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