10 books like Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849

By Asenath Nicholson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz

By Heather Morris,

Book cover of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Although set in such a terrible place this book tells the story of one young man’s hope and resilience. The tattooist’s true life experience is sympathetically used by the author as a base for the storyline and it makes for a very unsettling but compulsive read. I like that there isn’t too much description and yet I still felt the bleakness of the camp and the desperation of its prisoners. The love story running throughout the book helped to show the strength of the human spirit in spite of inhumane conditions.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

By Heather Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Tattooist of Auschwitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the bestselling books of the 21st century with over 6 million copies sold.

Don't miss the conclusion to The Tattooist of Auschwitz Trilogy, Three Sisters. Available now.

I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl.…


Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Atonement

McEwan is a modern master, one of the few we have. And like most true masters, he’s often flawed. Not every sentence is perfect, his plots sometimes have potholes, and he’s been accused, at times, of borrowing without attribution. But I’ve been reading him for forty years and I think Atonement has a fair claim to be his masterpiece. The novel takes place in three time periods – 1935, the Second World War, and 1999 – and traces the implications of child’s misapprehension in witnessing a sexual encounter. The novel was published in 2001 and I suspect that some ideologically-minded contemporary readers might protest its inclusion on a best of list. But for those who still have a taste for nuance and ambiguity, It’s a devastating story about families, class, and literature. 

Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Atonement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a…


Strumpet City

By James Plunkett,

Book cover of Strumpet City

I first read this book in my teens and it profoundly affected me. The storyline is set in Dublin from 1907 to 1914, when a third of the city’s residents were destitute. Large families lived in single rooms in the dilapidated former homes of wealthy landlords. The author weaves the lives of his fictional characters into the workers’ revolt and great lockout of 1913, a tragic time for the ordinary people of Dublin. In spite of this, there are wonderful scenes of kindness and self-sacrifice that a close-knit community will often provide. I feel this book greatly influenced my own writing decades after first reading it. 

Strumpet City

By James Plunkett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strumpet City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in Dublin during the Lockout of 1913, Strumpet City is a panoramic novel of city life. It embraces a wide range of social milieux, from the miseries of the tenements to the cultivated, bourgeois Bradshaws. It introduces a memorable cast of characters: the main protagonist, Fitz, a model of the hard-working, loyal and abused trade unionist; the isolated, well-meaning and ineffectual Fr O'Connor; the wretched and destitute Rashers Tierney. In the background hovers the enormous shadow of Jim Larkin, Plunkett's real-life hero.

Strumpet City's popularity derives from its realism and its naturalistic presentation of traumatic historical events. There are…


Seek the Fair Land

By Walter Macken,

Book cover of Seek the Fair Land

This is the first book in a trilogy that follows multiple generations of a fictional Irish family. Set in the mid-1600s, Cromwell’s soldiers leave a trail of destruction behind as they attack towns and villages throughout the country. After his wife is killed in the massacre of Drogheda Dominick McMahon and his two children, along with a wounded priest, set out to find a safer place to live. The story is compelling and, although part of a trilogy, can be read as a stand-alone novel. It has everything I like about historical fiction – captivating characters woven into a series of major events that pull the reader into a bygone era.

Seek the Fair Land

By Walter Macken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seek the Fair Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is 1649. As the English soldiers trample the Irish homesteads, leaving behind them a trail of barbarity and destruction, a few brave men set out to seek a 'fair land' over the brow of the hill.

Among them is Dominick MacMahon, whose wife has been killed in the bloody massacre of Drogheda, and whose son and daughter, and a wounded priest, Father Sebastian, accompany him.

But as he journeys in search of peace and freedom he is relentlessly pursued by Coote, the Cromwellian ruler of Connaught . . .


Life Sentences

By Billy O'Callaghan,

Book cover of Life Sentences

Set over three generations of the one family, this is the story of their fight for survival. What I love here is not just the prose, because there is no one finer than O’Callaghan, but also because it touches on the depopulation of Ireland’s small islands during the famine and the small island to which he refers has a very significant family connection for me. Partly based on O’Callaghan’s own family, Life Sentences tells an epic story of working-class life in Ireland from famine right through to modern-day. It is an unforgettable tale of love, abandonment, and reconciliation.

Life Sentences

By Billy O'Callaghan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Sentences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*THE #3 IRISH BESTSELLER*
*A SINEAD & RICK 'MUST READS' PICK*

An unforgettable tale of love, abandonment, hunger and redemption, from a rising star of Irish fiction

'O'Callaghan is one of our finest writers . . . and this is his best work yet' JOHN BANVILLE

*****

At just sixteen, Nancy leaves the small island of Cape Clear for the mainland, the only member of her family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding work in a grand house on the edge of Cork City, she is irrepressibly drawn to the charismatic gardener Michael Egan, sparking a love…


A Slip of a Girl

By Patricia Reilly Giff,

Book cover of A Slip of a Girl

I’m a bit of a Celtophile but hadn’t heard of the Irish Land Wars of the early 1800s before encountering this book. In short: after The Great Famine, poor crop yields forced tenant farmers into a desperate fight to stay on farmland owned by absentee owners. Anna, the book’s protagonist, isn’t a typical mighty-girl heroine, but has a fierce love for her family, and the farm that was theirs long before their landlord claimed it. The author offers her story in perfect verse, weaving in bits of her family’s own history and historic photos as well. Anna’s a girl who knew what she wanted and never stopped believing it could and should be hers until it was. That’s a lesson all children, including this grown one, can really, really use.

A Slip of a Girl

By Patricia Reilly Giff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Slip of a Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-wrenching novel in verse about a poor girl surviving the Irish Land Wars, by a two-time Newbery Honor-winning author.

For Anna, the family farm has always been home... But now, things are changing.

Anna's mother has died, and her older siblings have emigrated, leaving Anna and her father to care for a young sister with special needs. And though their family has worked this land for years, they're in danger of losing it as poor crop yields leave them without money to pay their rent.

When a violent encounter with the Lord's rent collector results in Anna and her…


Women and the Great Hunger

By Christine Kinealy (editor), Jason King (editor), Ciaran Reilly (editor)

Book cover of Women and the Great Hunger

Throughout history – and into the present – hunger is always profoundly gendered, women being disproportionately impacted upon than men. The point has been remarkably little studied so it’s a good thing that the most prolific writer on the Great Famine of Ireland, Christine Kinealy alongside two other fine famine scholars, have finally addressed this. The book is a series of essays exploring the roles that women (and children) played during the famine. Timely and powerful and a useful reminder that when it comes to writing the history of hunger we’ve only just started.

Women and the Great Hunger

By Christine Kinealy (editor), Jason King (editor), Ciaran Reilly (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and the Great Hunger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even considering recent advances in the development of women's studies as a discipline, women remain underrepresented in the history and historiography of the Great Hunger. The various roles played by women, including as landowners, relief-givers, philanthropists, proselytizers and providers for the family, have received little attention.This publication examines the diverse and still largely unexplored role of women during the Great Hunger, shedding light on how women experienced and shaped the tragedy that unfolded in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. In addition to more traditional sources, the contributors also draw on folklore and popular culture.Women and the Great Hunger brings together…


The Great Hunger

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Book cover of The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849

When this book was released in 1962, it landed like a bomb, becoming an immediate, worldwide best seller. Woodham-Smith did not "invent" the famine as a topic -- every historian of the period was well aware of this tragedy, and its implications for the future of Ireland (mass emigration, smoldering indignation in the Irish diaspora, seeds for future rebellion) -- but many readers were unaware of the governmental machinations in London that so contributed to this humanitarian disaster. Some of Woodham-Smith's conclusions, and judgments, have been questioned by succeeding historians, but her narrative here is compelling, well researched, beautifully written, and germane to the troubles which afflicted the island well into the twentieth century and beyond.

The Great Hunger

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Hunger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, perhaps the most appalling event of the Victorian era, killed over a million people and drove as many more to emigrate to America. It may not have been the result of deliberate government policy, yet British 'obtuseness, short-sightedness and ignorance' - and stubborn commitment to laissez-faire 'solutions' - largely caused the disaster and prevented any serious efforts to relieve suffering. The continuing impact on Anglo-Irish relations was incalculable, the immediate human cost almost inconceivable. In this vivid and disturbing book Cecil Woodham-Smith provides the definitive account.

'A moving and terrible book. It combines…


Ireland

By Gustave de Beaumont, W. C. Taylor (translator),

Book cover of Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious

First published in 1839 this is a fascinating history of Ireland from an outsider’s perspective. De Beaumont, a Frenchman, was a grandson of Lafayette and a lifelong friend of Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of Democracy in America. He visited Ireland in 1835 and two years later L’Irlande appeared in two volumes, with an English translation later that year. An intellectual tour de force, the book was an immediate bestseller and remained popular for decades. His contemptuous howl of outrage directed at the British administration in Ireland reverberated down the nineteenth century.

Ireland

By Gustave de Beaumont, W. C. Taylor (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ireland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paralleling his friend Alexis de Tocqueville's visit to America, Gustave de Beaumont travelled through Ireland in the mid-1830s to observe its people and society. In "Ireland", he chronicles the history of the Irish and offers up a national portrait on the eve of the Great Famine. Published to acclaim in France, "Ireland" remained in print there until 1914. The English edition, translated by William Cooke Taylor and published in 1839, was not reprinted. This rediscovered masterpiece, in a single volume for the first time, reproduces the 19th century Taylor translation and includes an introduction on Beaumont and his world.


Star of the Sea

By Joseph O'Connor,

Book cover of Star of the Sea

Even professional historians need to slow down and read fiction sometimes! And Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea his is one of my all-time favorites. Set on an emigrant sailing ship during Ireland’s Great Famine, this dark thriller skillfully interweaves the stories of a number of different passengers, one of whom happens to be a murderer. O’Connor, one of Ireland’s leading novelists, finds that perfect balance between “historical” and “fiction.”

Star of the Sea

By Joseph O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Star of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Over a million copies sold *

Rediscover Joseph O'Connor's monumental #1 international bestseller.

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York.

On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know.

But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Ireland, the Great Famine in Ireland, and the Irish?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Ireland, the Great Famine in Ireland, and the Irish.

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