At nearly 700 pages this isn't a book that can be read in one sitting, but it is a book that I rearranged my real life to sit and read. It as an epic saga centred around the Connors, Riordans, O'Briens and Averdales - four families on opposing sides of the Irish conflict. The story commences after the formation of the Irish Free State with the split of the IRA into groups of those who considered it was the best deal they could get at the time and the way forward should be through negotiation not violence, and those who wanted nothing less than the total pull-out of Britain from Ireland. Men and women who had previously fought together against the British now found themselves fighting against each other. The feud between the Riordans and Connors starts during those times - it is extremely bloody and ruthless and is set to last the duration of the book which runs up until the late 1960s/early 1970s, with the O'Briens and Riordans being drawn into it along the way. The book really is a fantastic look at British history through the 20th century - the families are drawn into WWII, we have the Kennedy era and the Cold War as well as the commencement of the break up of the British Empire, right up to the formation of the Provisional IRA. The story starts in Ireland but sweeps across Britain, France, Kenya and United States with characters who are so well thought out and believable that you really get to know them, and feel for them.
It is extremely well written with a story that just flows across the page, completely unputdownable. It will shock you with its ruthlessness but there are also some very moving stories of love, friendship and loyalty that unfold along the way and there will definitely be times when you well up with tears. A fantastic read.