The triumphant conclusion to the trilogy that began with A Star Called Henry
Watch for Roddy Doyle’s new novel, Smile, coming in October of 2017
Henry Smart is back. It is 1946, and Henry has crawled into the desert of Utah's Monument Valley to die. He's stumbled onto a film set though, and ends up in Hollywood collaborating with John Ford on a script based on his life. Eventually, Henry finds himself back in Ireland, where he becomes a custodian, and meets up with a woman who may or may not be his long-lost wife. After being injured in a political bombing in Dublin, the secret of his rebel past comes out, and Henry is a national hero. Or are his troubles just beginning? Raucous, colorful, and epic, The Dead Republic is the magnificent final act in the life of one of Doyle's most unforgettable characters.
Doyle digs into the modern history of Ireland in the concluding volume to the life story of Henry Smart, a teenage Sinn Fein triggerman first encountered in A Star Called Henry. Here, an aging Henry must preserve his own legend, which is taken away from him first for a film, and then by the IRA. In the mid-1940s, film director John Ford plans to make a movie based on Henry's life, but Henry eventually realizes the film that Ford has planned will reduce his story to sentimental pap. Upon returning to Ireland with Ford, Henry plans on killing the director, but his callousness has faded, and he drifts into the Dublin suburbs, where he meets a respectable widow who may be his long-disappeared wife. Henry ages in obscurity until the '70s, when the IRA uses a distorted version of Henry's story as a PR ploy; as the IRA man who runs Henry explains, "we hold the copyright" to the Irish story. Doyle is a stellar storyteller, though not a faultless one characters tend to editorialize at the drop of a hat; yet Doyle exhibits a peerless ear for cynicism as he grapples with the violence and farce of Irish history.
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The Dead Republic
Disappointing. Not his best by far.