Cover Image: The Glorious Guinness Girls

The Glorious Guinness Girls

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I'm a new fan of historical fiction so I figured I would enjoy this, however I struggled to get past the first few pages. I'm sure this is a fine story and fine novel, but it is not at all my style so I didn't enjoy it.
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Review will be posted on 9/10/21
Felicity, otherwise known as Fliss, is sent away to live with the Guinness girls as her mother can no longer care for her.  She is to be a companion to the three famous Guinness sisters.  As the years go by, Fliss is reminded that she technically isn't one of them, but she isn't exactly like the downstairs help either.  Where does she fit in? Being in their world means she is privy to all the high society functions, the gossip, and what it means to grow up with the world at your fingertips.  On the other hand, her brother, Hughie, is a big proponent of the Irish Free State. He reminds Fliss that there's change coming and the lifestyle that the Guinness family is accustomed to will soon be a distant memory.  In fact, it's Hughie who brings this to the Guinness sisters' attention and challenges their way of thinking. The Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican is an interesting glimpse into the real-life Guinness sisters and I recommend it to fans of Downton Abbey.

Admittingly, I did not know much about the Guinness sisters before reading The Glorious Guinness Girls. I was surprised by how interesting their lives were. There's Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh who are shining stars in the high society social scene. Each sister brings something different to the table. The one thing I liked about the story was how it was told from the perspective of Fliss, so we really got to understand things from an outside point of view. Even though the Guinness girls lived in the lap of luxury, just outside their gates there's so much turmoil.  

Speaking of Fliss, she is a compelling character in The Guinness Girls.  At first, she feels like an outsider. Can you blame her? Their world is so much different than hers, but as time goes on, she figures out her place and becomes an important person in the sisters' lives including her brother, Hughie, who reminds them that so much is going on outside of their palatial mansion. Hughie gets involved in the politics in Ireland and it will forever impact Fliss and the Guinness sisters.

My one issue with The Glorious Guinness Girls was the pacing. The middle of story was very slow at times and not much happened to really set this book apart from the other historical novels I've read this summer.  However, the setting of Ireland on the brink on the brink of independence really was the best part. I also appreciated learning more about the Guinness girls and their legacy. 

Have you read The Glorious Guinness Girls? Do you enjoy historical fiction? Let me know in the comments below.
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I wrote about this book on GoodReads and will post on my blog in early September. I'll also post on Instagram. Note that I listened to the audiobook of this title.
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I lean toward 3.5 on this one, folks--I quite liked it, but I'm not sure we're at the "really liked it" level.

"The Glorious Guinness Girls" is a historical fiction take on the daughters of the rich Guinness family in 1920s British society. We see their story through the eyes of another--a far less well off young girl, Felicity (Fliss), who comes into their life as a classroom companion and stays in their home through the girls' ultimate marriages. The book is a snapshot of the Bright Young Things society of the 1920s--the drinking, dancing, and debauchery-as well as a portrait of the period's social class and colonial issues (in particular, the topic of Irish freedom.)

What's good: The story is interesting and the main character compelling. She's not weak-willed or stupid, thank goodness.

What's iffier: The book feels like it is set up ultimately to condemn the ways of the British rich, treating others like toys. That seems to be the foundation for Fliss' story, for her brother's, for Thomas the stableboy, etc. But by the end, the book pulls its punches. This largely due to the affection the main character (and the author) has for the Guinness daughters, but they don't seem sufficiently striking to be worth it. In particular, Maureen is mostly visible in the text as a temperamental brat who glories in cruelty. That she makes Fliss use her hand-me-downs to go out partying with her friends doesn't really counterbalance the many examples in the text of Maureen being awful. The text gave me a bad case of "wanting to reach through the words and smack a character"-itis whenever Maureen was around.
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This book is perfect for a beach read,  See behind the scenes of glamour and money where the lives of the rich and famous are far from perfect. This is the tale of the beautiful Guinness Girls as seen through the eyes of their childhood companion. We learn about them and about how the "supporting staff" of celebrities can forget to live their own lives.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with ARCs for our Book Club. The Glorious Guinness Girls had so much depth that it sparked lots of discussion even outside of the questions that were provided. The author is very well-written and we enjoyed the story-telling. It was especially unique to read it from Fliss's point of view, a view from an outsider who was not part of the family yet she was. Hourican did a great job of introducing the Guinness sisters to us.
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This novel, set in the glamorous heyday of the British Bright Young Things, is perfect for fans of Masterpiece dramas like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs!
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I love historical fiction, especially when it deals with real people from the past. This novel sounded like it was going to be right up my alley. You have the heiresses to the Guinness stout fortune, a perfect time in history-the roaring twenties, and an abundance of tragic circumstances since this was about Ireland and in the early 20th century. This should have been an exciting or at least informative book about the Guinnesses, right? But, no, it was not.

The debutantes are seen through a fictitious person's eyes, and she (Felicity or Fliss as they nicknamed her) was the most boring of narrators. The only interesting thing going is what happens between Fliss and her brother Hughie, which seems to be a bit on the incestuous side but without the sex (at least that we know of).

This bok was filled with enough ennui, rants about poor over-privileged me, words that were just filler, drugs, alcohol, and stupid parties. The girl's mother was sick through this entire book- did the author deign to tell us what the problem was? No. Did the author flood this book with enough florid prose to make you want to tear your hair out? Yes.

I'm sorry, but no, just no. I d admit to having enough interest to finish this ARC, though.


*ARC supplied by the publisher.
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I don’t feel like I can give a fair review because I took several weeks to read it.  I felt like it had a weak plot , with a daily round of parties being the main theme.  The list of characters in the front was helpful.
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The Glorious  Guinness Girls was not so glorious.  Neither was it "for fans of Downton Abbey" as suggested in the marketing preview.  To be honest, I did care for the writing or the characters....I would have enjoyed this novel if it were told from the Guinness girls perspective as opposed to Fliss their companion.  My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I found this topic very intriguing. I was genuinely interested and excited to read this. Ultimately, I was let down. It seemed the author kept building on something that had happened that seemed like it would be a tragedy. In the end it was just kind of a let down.
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I enjoyed THE GLORIOUS GUINNESS GIRLS, which paints a riveting portrait of the three Guinness girls through the 1920s. 

The story takes a while to get going, with quite a bit of throat-clearing at the beginning. It really picks up when Felicity meets the Guinness girls. I think it should've started there. 

The 1978 portions add some intrigue and kept me turning the pages.

Hourican sets a scene very well with wonderful sensory details. For the most part, I found Felicity to be a charming main character. The strongest parts of the story for me were with Felicity and her brother, Hughie. That felt like the beating heart of the novel. I had a hard time caring about the Guinness girls as they went to London and partied and looked for husbands.
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Let’s take a moment and admire the beautiful cover of The Glorious Guinness Girls by Emily Hourican. Now that we’ve taken in the wonderful design of the cover art, let’s see what this fantastic novel is about:

Descendants of the founder of the Guinness beer empire, they were the toast of 1920s high society, darlings of the press, with not a care in the world. But Felicity knows better. Sent to live with them as a child because her mother could no longer care for her, she grows up as the sisters’ companion. Both an outsider and a part of the family, she witnesses the complex lives upstairs and downstairs, sees the compromises and sacrifices beneath the glamorous surface. Then, at a party one summer’s evening, something happens that sends shock waves through the entire household.

Inspired by a remarkable true story and fascinating real events, The Glorious Guinness Girls is an unforgettable novel about the haves and have-nots, one that will make you ask if where you find yourself is where you truly belong.

I knew nothing at all about the Guinness girls so this was a fun read for me, showing me people from history that I didn’t know much about before reading the book. I love the glamour of society back in the 1920s and of course, reading about Ireland and London is always a welcome treat.  This is a charming story and I especially loved the details of the time period.

Out now.
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Great read.  The writing was fabulous. Great time period almost wish I was alive back then the world was actually simpler.
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This book was a lovely surprise.  From the description I thought I'd enjoy learning about the three Guinness daughters, Maureen, Aileen and Oonagh.  The book does talk about these girls and their mother and father and the decadent upbringing they enjoyed as the daughters of a Guinness in Dublin.  Even better, in my opinion, the book talks a lot more about the "poor relation" Felicity (aka Fliss) and her uneasy fitting into the household when she's sent to live with them after her father is killed in WW1 and her mother is dealing with reduced finances and just can't cope with her daughter.  Fliss has a unique view of the family, she's an outsider and quickly realizes that they live in a gilded cage.  Her brother Hugh brings glimpses of the real world and the politics of Ireland in the early 1920s.  Hugh also brings a school chum named Richard.  The two boys are quickly adopted by the Guinness girls and enthusiastically included in the parties and social activities that are the focal point of their lives.  

That all changes in 1922 when the powder keg that is Ireland explodes and rioting breaks out and the Irish Civil War begins in earnest.  The Guinness family, and Fliss, flee to London.  At this point the Guinness family takes a round the world yacht trip, leaving Fliss behind, and when they return things are different.  Fliss has taken a hard look at what her life will be, decided to take a shorthand course and be a career woman.  The Guinness Girls embark on a life in high society, bolstered by the enormous fortune of the family and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the Roaring 20s.  They become part of a group of young men and women known in the papers and magazines of the time as the "Bright Young People".  The contrast between Fliss and her working girl life at a publishing firm versus the party until dawn, alcohol and drug fueled lifestyle of the Guinness girls gets more and more evident.  

This book shows the divide between the working class and wealthy and very entitled high society of the interwar period, the aftermath of WW1 and the excess and debauchery of the Roaring 20s that came down with a crash when The Great Depression hit at the end of 1929.  The Guinness Girls were staggeringly wealthy, beautiful, but were they happy?  The history that included something of the Irish Civil War was fascinating.  Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
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Glenmaroon Dublin  -  1918

Felicity (Fliss) has been sent to live with her cousins, the Guinness girls, Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh.  Their mother, Cloe, is an American woman and is not well.  A woman named Gunnie seems to be the one to keep all of them on track and to watch out for Cloe.  They live in opulence that is more than Fliss has ever known.  Fliss quickly fits in with the family and is lucky to be educated along with them.  As the girls dream about their debuts, Fliss knows she will not be a part of that.

Fliss had not seen her brother, Hughie, for many years as he was at school.  One summer, he and his friend, Richard, are staying in town and they come out to visit with the girls which adds much fun to their daily routine.

Soon, their father tells them that they will be going to live in another one of their homes due to the violence and upset caused by the Irish Civil War.  

Much of the story covers the Guinness girls and their life in London in a time period where wealthy young women partied long into the night dancing and drinking heavily.  We also learn about the distinctly different personalities of the sisters.  We meet the men the girls married and the friends they made. 

I was drawn into wanting to read this book as it is touted to be about the glamour of the early 1900s and also how it mimics Downton Abbey and Belgravia, both of which I have enjoyed reading.  While it does not have the spice that those two books have, this book tends to be a long one that includes so much that can become boring to some.  However, I think it is a story that the author has obviously researched for many years and one that she has written from the heart.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I love reading a historical fiction book that takes place somewhere I am not that familiar with -- this one is Ireland for most of the beginning and then London.

I knew absolutely nothing about the Guinness Girls and the totally was just fascinating.  I did find out she is writing a sequel which I am so happy about.

I loved how Emily took the POV from a young girl named Felicity who lived with the Guinness girls from the age of 10 on.  It was brilliant.  I also enjoyed her relationship with her brother Hughie which was just an added bonus to this fabulous story.
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Even as a child growing up in the UK, I had heard of Guinness beer. I have vague memories of, at one point in my life (not as a child, obviously!), being advised to drink stout because of its iron content—a suggestion that went nowhere because I never developed a liking for stout. But the idea that a particular brand of beer must be the brain child of an individual with a vision, and that the individual in question might have a family worthy of a novel, never occurred to me until a publicist pitched Emily Hourican’s “The Glorious Guinness Girls” for a New Books Network interview that didn’t fit into my schedule. 

I read the book, enjoyed it, learned a lot about 1920s high society and the early 20th-century Irish drive for independence., Check the link below for an interview with the author. And I love that cover, with its Guinness harp smack dab in the center!
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An intriguing novelization of the lives of Aileen, Maureen and Oonagh Guinness, the three beautiful and glamorous daughters of Ernest and Chloe Guinness. The story is told from the point of view of Felicity “Fliss” Burke, a fictional character sent to live with these famous sisters first at their grand home of Glenmaroon in Dublin, and later in the heart of London. While at Glenmaroon, the sisters and Fliss are kept away from the trouble going on outside their protected enclave, but soon some of the danger and violence of the struggle for Irish Independence begins to seep in. Beginning with the worries of their parents and eventually from the involvement of Fliss’s older brother and his friend, the War for Independence is at their front door. To safeguard his family, Ernest decides to relocate them to their home in London. Here as the girls grow older, their world begins to expand. As each make her debut, they find the constrictions of their parent’s rules constraining. Maureen ventures out into the social world of the Roaring Twenties and the group of young the press has named “The Bright Young Things”. Dragging Fliss and her sisters along with her, they find themselves among those flaunting the old ways and creating a new way to live in a changing world.

This is an engaging and richly drawn portrayal of the lives of these three early “celebrities”. While the first part of the novel dealing with the Irish Revolution is a bit light on history, the second part truly shines. The world of young socialites, casting off the pall of the Great War and trying to find a place in the new world order is captivating. The rise and fall of the “Bright Young Things” is vibrantly detailed, and the eventual disillusionment with the shallow world of celebrity is accurately depicted. This is a novel which will appeal to fans of Julian Fellows and Downton Abbey.
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I had a hard time really getting into this story. The characters and the story were not my cup of tea, at the moment. I couldn't find a motivation to be interested in these particular characters and their stories. I read 40% of the book, and decided to move on.
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