Ryan’s Hope

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Nights Beneath the NationNights Beneath the Nation

by Denis Kehoe
Serpent’s Tail.  245 pages, $14.95

 

THIS WELL-RESEARCHED historical novel alternates between Dublin in the early 1950’s and late 1990’s, following a gay man as he recalls his youthful adventures and the tragic series of events that forced him to flee for America. Daniel Ryan enters Dublin from his country home, captivated by the excitement and opportunities available in Ireland’s capital. When he comes to realize that he’s gay, he also discovers the city’s hidden homosexual underground. In addition, he learns of his talent and passion for the theatre when he’s asked to perform in a production of Federico García Lorca’s play Blood Wedding, where he meets and falls in love with Anthony, a young student and actor. But even in Dublin, Daniel cannot escape the closed-minded, bigoted attitudes of the majority of his fellow countrymen, and his happiness is short-lived. In a scene not revealed until the end of the novel, his relationship with Anthony ends, and he escapes Ireland for nearly fifty years. When he returns, he is forced to face his past and eventually bury his demons.

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