The Winship Family: Book One (Father and Son)

Written by Michael J. McCarthy
Review by Laura Fahey

McCarthy’s trilogy spans virtually the entire course of the Victorian British empire, as young Seamus Tobin is adopted into the wealthy and powerful Anglo-Irish Winship family and thus given opportunities denied to many of his contemporaries in 1850s County Cork. He attends Eton and Oxford and ships out to military service in India under his new name of James Winship. He returns to an Ireland embroiled in the controversial policies of such towering Downing Street figures as Gladstone and Balfour. In the time-honored tradition of this kind of historical fiction, he meets virtually every single famous person alive at the time, from Charles Stewart Parnell to Winston Churchill.

McCarthy steadily expands his core group of character to include a womanizing army officer, an aggressively nationalistic Irish sergeant, a winningly-portrayed Indian rajah, and many others. We follow their adventures as Ireland and the Empire change forever.

McCarthy’s prose can often be slightly lackluster, but he has done ample amounts of research, and in Rajah Ali he gives us a character who very adroitly embodies the optimisms, delusions, and tragedies of British imperialism.

Those interested in the time period should not miss this trilogy.

(Complete Trilogy Reviewed: Book Two – The Children, ISBN 9781490329154, Book Three – Independence, ISBN 9781490329154)