If She Only Knew
by Derville Murphy
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 26 Jan 2021 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2021
Described as 'Peaky Blinders meets Pride and Prejudice,' this stylish, historical drama is set between Victorian England and Ireland. Julia Benson spirited Irish artist is disinherited by her father's will and forced, for her sister's sake, to be dependent on her controlling brother-in-law. But when Donal, her Fenian lover goes missing, she moves to Manchester to find him. While trying to build her career in the British art-world she becomes embroiled in a plot so dangerous that all of their lives are in danger.
Patricia O'Reilly Author
This is historical fiction at its best where research sits lightly on the shoulders of fiction. If Only She Knew is a compelling story of love, connivance and betrayal set around the machinations of Home Rule with art playing a major role.
Julia Benson from a Unionist family, is a successful artist and photographer who falls love with Donal O'Keefe, an ardent Fenian. Stubborn and determined Julia defies her family to follow her beliefs which she does despite the many obstacles she encounters. She is an engaging heroine as are all of Murphy's keenly drawn characters and the locations she depicts with a painterly eye.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 6 members
This book is described as Peaky Blinders meet Pride and Prejudice, and even though I haven't read or watched neither, it sounded interesting enough. And it was. But it was not perfect. We follow the main characters, Julia, an Irish artist from a Unionist family who falls in love with an ardent Fenian. The beginning was a bit confusing, we got introduced to a lot of characters and it seemed a lot of things were happening at the same time. But bit by bit we we began to dive into the world and the whole character dynamics. And going into the characters...I think they really made the book what it is, and without it I really wouldn't like it. We have so many complex and well-built characters, like Julia, who was a bit of an insufferable spoiled women but still likable. What I liked is that every character (well, except for Edward) had its ups and downs and were morally grey, and I ended up empathizing with many of them. The plot wasn't as good as the characters. The description makes this book seem more of a romance than it really is. The book drowned on in some places, and most of the time I had no idea where the plot was going. We had many subplots and many things happening before what, for me, should have been the main focus of the book. This doesn't mean the story was bad, because it was indeed good and I enjoyed reading it, but I feel the subplots could have been a bit more concise and we got more information on the whole criminal dangerous plot. It was very interesting reading more about the Irish struggle, as my knowledge about it is quite minimal, and it was indeed quite fascinating to see both the Unionist and Fenian sides and the way sometimes violence and fighting for the "greater good" is so prevalent in politics. It was sad seeing Julia not quite get the resolution for herself or Ireland that she wanted, but the ending was delightful; I expected something different and more cliché, but I enjoyed it so much and I think it fits who Julia and what real life is. Thank you NetGalley and the author for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
If Only She Knew is a heartwarming book set in both Ireland and England in the Victorian era during the time of the Fenian Brotherhood. It is about love, pursuing dreams and goals, freedom and taking a firm stand for one's beliefs. Fiery and fiercely independent Julia Benson was an artist in Ireland who told stories on her own terms through painting. In ways it was not a stellar time to be an artist as many in Ireland simply could not afford to spend on luxuries. Julia's art did not have wide appeal due to the subject matter she chose. Her father shockingly disinherited her in his will so she had to make her own way. Though not poor she was careful with spending, especially as she supported her sister and brother in law. When her beau, Donal O'Keefe went missing, she moved to Manchester to find him. Her search became increasingly dangerous due to political stances and unrest. She found herself enshrouded in something bigger than she expected and was forced to make difficult choices. Inspector Dodd became involved. The wonderful historical details and interesting characters enliven and enrich the story. I like that there is depth to this multi-layered book. Historical Fiction readers ought to pick this up. This book would also appeal to General Fiction and Women's Fiction fans. My sincere thank you to Poolbeg Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this beautiful book.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I had not previously read any books by this author but was pleasantly pleased and will definitely be on the lookout for future releases. Julia and Harriet were sisters that were used to support the cause and both suffered because of the men in their lives. Julia , was a decent artist could not attain artistic fame and Harriet life was that of struggle and deceit. A sad and dark book that showed how far people will go to achieve what they think they deserve. No spoilers here but the ending was delightful. Recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️