Trick of Fate: Connell O'Keeffe and The Pen Caer Legacy by Patricia Watkins
|Trick of Fate: Connell O'Keeffe and The Pen Caer Legacy by Patricia Watkins|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The French invasion of what's now known as Strumble Head isn't widely known but Patricia Watkins uses it well as the backdrop to her story set at the end of the eighteenth century, Recommended. Patricia Watkins popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 293||Date: August 2012|
|Publisher: Down Design Publications|
|External links: Author's website|
Connell O'Keeffe was a gentleman actor and on 23 February 1797 he was on his way from Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire to catch the ferry home to Ireland. Unable to speak Welsh he was unaware that the French had invaded Pen Caer and rode into a situation which would change his life forever. The man who had set off to make his leisurely way home, taking in some of the local landmarks suffered a life-threatening injury, was unjustly accused of a foul murder and became a fugitive. It was difficult to see that he could survive his current situation - fitter men than he were dying - and if he did, what was the point? What was there that he could do when his chosen profession would no longer be open to him?
I first discovered Patricia Watkins when I read The Wayward Gentleman: John Theophilus Potter and the Town of Haverfordwest, the lightly fictionalised retelling of the life of the author's great-great-great-grandfather. I was intrigued by the way that she brought the end of the eighteenth century to life and I was easily tempted to read her fictional story about Connell O'Keeffe. It sits elegantly beside The Wayward Gentleman as Theo Potter and his wife make cameo appearances in Trick of Fate and the two stories blend well.
There are similarities - O'Keeffe and Potter are both gentlemen players from Dublin who are obliged to make their way in South Wales but Potter is there from choice, whereas O'Keeffe is trapped in Wales, badly injured, imprisoned and when he does manage to escape he knows that he will be a fugitive until he clears his name. Watkins brings the chaos of battle off the page superbly and she's particularly good on the aftermath - the randomness of treatment, the foul and degrading conditions and the occasional person who does their best to help at some risk to themselves. It's a very good, compelling story.
I rather fell for O'Keeffe too. He's an honourable man - although there are some situations when it could be said that assuming that others will be equally honourable borders on naivety. He's far from being aware of his own charms and assumes that physical disfigurement will not only curtail his career but will certainly put any woman off him very quickly. There's a lady in the story too. Katherine Saunders was betrothed to the man O'Keeffe is accused of murdering - and she's out for revenge. And, quite frankly, if Katherine Saunders is out for revenge you're best giving yourself up now. She's feisty - and then some.
I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag. I expected to enjoy the read and I wasn't disappointed. If the book appeals to you do have a look at The Wayward Gentleman: John Theophilus Potter and the Town of Haverfordwest - there's no problem in reading one without the other - but they complement each other well.
You can read more book reviews or buy Trick of Fate: Connell O'Keeffe and The Pen Caer Legacy by Patricia Watkins at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Trick of Fate: Connell O'Keeffe and The Pen Caer Legacy by Patricia Watkins at Amazon.com.
You can read more about Patricia Watkins here.
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