Through the Waters and the Wild by Greg Fields tells the story of Conor Finnegan in present day America and Liam Finnegan, his grandfather, during the Irish Civil War. When the novel begins Conor’s marriage has just ended and he struggles to figure out what to do with his life. It’s not that he’s heartbroken over the demise of his marriage, because a part of him has always thought the marriage was a mistake, but rather he feels like he’s flailing in a government job and still thinks about his first love and first heartbreak.
While missing Glynnis, his lost love, and figuring out what he wants to do for his career that will feel more fulfilling, he thinks of his grandfather, Liam. About a 1/3 into the book, Liam’s story is told which takes up a large chunk of the novel. Liam Finnegan was a young man born and raised in Ireland, working on his family farm with his dad and younger brother. His girlfriend, Maire, lived in town and they were very much in love. But, there was a lot of turmoil with the Irish Civil War. He did not want to be involved at all, but his fellow Irishmen who were rebelling against the British would harass him to join them and the British would find any reason to harass, beat, arrest the Irish especially if they suspected you to be a rebel.
After some dramatic events, Liam decides he needs to leave. There is nothing left for him in Ireland and not even his love for his father and brother, the family farm, or his love for Maire can make him stay. He books passage to America and after a tough time in Boston, he finds himself in Chicago and slowly makes a life for himself.
Inspired by his grandfather’s courage and epic life, Conor knows he wants something more for his life.
I enjoyed this novel, but it actually took me a little while to get into it. I wasn’t extremely interested in Conor’s story, though I did find myself more interested in it during the last 1/3 of the book. I was very interested in Liam’s story. I thought it was much more captivating.
While I was hoping for some fairytale ending, the story is more realistic (you can decide if that’s good or bad). The ending was hopeful though!
There was one quote that really stuck with me and it was early on in the novel. It was a quote said by one of Conor’s friends to him.
“You can spend your whole life listening to your parents, and your teachers, and the Church, and your friends, and everyone’s going to have an idea of what’s right and what’s wrong. But if you spend all your time listening to others, you’ll never have enough time to listen to yourself.”
*This book was sent to me complimentary but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.*