Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why I Wrote Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna + Giveaway (open INT!)

Rebel Sisters
Marita Conlon-McKenna

Published for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Rebel Sisters is the Number One Irish bestseller from award-winning novelist Marita Conlon-McKenna, who writes with all the emotional depth and warmth of Maeve Binchy.

With the threat of the First World War looming, tension simmers under the surface of Ireland.

Growing up in the privileged confines of Dublin’s leafy Rathmines, the bright, beautiful Gifford sisters Grace, Muriel, and Nellie kick against the conventions of their wealthy Anglo-Irish background and their mother Isabella’s expectations. Soon, as war erupts across Europe, the spirited sisters find themselves caught up in their country’s struggle for freedom.

Muriel falls deeply in love with writer Thomas MacDonagh, artist Grace meets the enigmatic Joe Plunkett—both leaders of "The Rising"—while Nellie joins the Citizen Army and bravely takes up arms, fighting alongside Countess Constance Markievicz in the rebellion.

On Easter Monday, 1916, the biggest uprising in Ireland for two centuries begins. The world of the Gifford sisters and everyone they hold dear will be torn apart in a fight that is destined for tragedy.

Why I Wrote Rebel Sisters

In history, the distance between the past and present is only a few steps away. I am drawn to it and it has helped to form the landscape of many of my books.

A hundred years ago in April 1916, a small group of Irish nationalist rebels decided to make a stand for Irish freedom against centuries of British rule. They took Dublin’s General Post Office and a number of other buildings and proudly hoisted the Irish flag and declared an Irish republic. The hard-fought 1916 Easter Rebellion lasted only a week as the British army launched heavy attacks on the GPO and the different garrisons. Following their surrender, General Maxwell, the British leader, ordered the execution in Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol of all of the rebellion leaders.

Visiting Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, I am always moved as the tour brings us to the prison chapel where at almost midnight on May 3rd, the 1916 rebel leader Joseph Plunkett was married to artist Grace Gifford only a few hours before his execution in the Stone Breaker’s Yard.

The love story of Grace and Joe, the tragic bride and groom, was picked up by newspapers around the world in 1916 and helped change public opinion about the ill-fated 1916 rising. Their story has even been turned into a popular Irish ballad, "Grace."

I had never really intended writing about the 1916 rising but was curious to know more about Grace Gifford, the talented young artist who came from a wealthy protestant family deeply and how she had become involved in the Rebellion.

I was very surprised to discover that Grace’s older sister Muriel was married to Thomas MacDonagh, a fact few people know. Two sisters married to two leaders of the rising who faced the firing squad in Kilmainham. Then I found out that her sister Nellie had joined the Irish Citizen Army and actually fought in the rising.

The three Gifford sisters were part of a large wealthy, Anglo-Irish family but yet each had kicked against convention and followed their heart and become deeply involved in the heart of 1916 Rebellion. I felt like I had stumbled on pure gold and began to write...

The story of Grace, Muriel and Nellie—The Gifford sisters and the men they love—is set against the backdrop of a time of huge change, especially for women, a time of growing Irish nationalism, the suffragettes, the 1913 Lockout, and The Great War.

It has been a great privilege to write about real people, something I have never done before, but the story of the Gifford sisters was irresistible from a writer’s point of view. My hope is that readers everywhere will come to know and care about these sisters as much as I did in the telling of their incredible story.

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Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Rebel Sisters—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
In your life, who or what is worth fighting for?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Marita and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at TLC Book Tours and Random House UK!
Giveaway ends June 29th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter, provided you have a verifiable postal and email address.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!