Thursday, February 11, 2021

 Hey everyone!  I have another review for you guys; this one is for A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel!  It's a historical set in Ireland just a couple years after the Spanish Flu.  Before I get into the details of my own review, though, here's some info about the book! 


All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother's wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends--and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced--as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

Jennifer Deibel's debut novel delights the senses, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a lush country and a colorful people. Historical romance fans will embrace her with open arms.



Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic Magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona.


I really struggled with how I wanted to review this book.  On one hand, I was interested in the premise, and reading a historical set in Ireland and steeped in mysterious rumors definitely piqued my interest.  So I'm just going to list the things I liked about the book, the things I didn't like, and then mention my star rating.  

PROS: *Beautiful descriptions.  I really enjoyed reading Deibel's descriptive language, and it was almost like being there. 
*Accurate use of Irish-Gaelic.  While I'm studying Scots-Gaelic, there's a bit of overlap between the two, and it was really cool to see Irish-Gaelic used throughout the novel. 
*Sean was probably my favorite character; he really seemed to step right out of the pages. 
*Some powerful themes on faith, trusting God, and finding your place in the world.  

*The plot could have been quite a bit tighter.  While the story started off immediately capturing my attention, the middle seemed to flail a bit.  There were several things that seemed to come out of left field and didn't realistically serve a purpose within the book.
*I won't spoil with any names, but if you are sensitive to detailed situations regarding a man abusing and assaulting a woman, you will want to be aware there is a scene that really took me by surprise, which lasted about 2-3 pages (I skimmed/skipped it).  It's not disgustingly graphic, but if that is a known trigger for you, skip it.  Perhaps the worst part was that the character's recovery from that was very unrealistic and barely touched upon.  

Overall, I really wanted to love this book - I've heard it compared to Christy - but there were also a lot of things that could have been done better, in my honest opinion.  I'm giving it 3 stars out of 5.

Do you plan on reading A Dance in Donegal?  Do you have any historical fiction recommendations?