Secrets of the Apple Tree Tavern: Volume 1 (Irish Fires) Paperback – 14 Jan 2014
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About the Author
Mary Ellen Gavin is a respected writer, editor and script consultant. She works with new writers to inspire stories of today that become classics of tomorrow.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
By Loretta Paraguassu
If you want a book that will keep you up until four in the morning because you can’t put it down,
this is it. Mary Ellen Gavin has wound the culture and customs of Irish Americans into one cliffhanger
How can you not care about Francis Fleming, an adorable, plucky, red haired, child? When he is
rescued by a warm hearted, resourceful, Irish cop who doesn’t mind bending the rules avoid dragging the boy
to a draconian orphanage, cheers are in order. And that is only the beginning.
Next, buckle up for the ride. Frank takes off on his journey to adulthood with the help of Mae, a
member of the tribe who takes him under her wing and poses as his aunt. She happens to own the Apple
Tavern. It’s New York and the bar is a refuge for one and all as they march through the aftermath of the
Great Depression only to plunge into the War to End All Wars.
There are so many more events to share – but the risk of being a spoiler is too great. Discovery is all.
Mary Ellen infuses each of her characters with a personality that jumps off the page. There are no
cardboard figures on her horizon. She gets up close and personal with each and every one of them. It’s a slice
of life with no blinking allowed. If there is a chance there will be bleeding, she lets them bleed.
Yes! People die in and around the Apple Tree Tavern and it isn’t pretty. It’s life! The good, the bad
and the ugly are laid bare. At the same time, there is so much loving and caring involved, the reader isn’t
given the opportunity to turn away. When I got to the last page, I still wanted more.
Gavin took ten years to research and write this volume. We can only hope she is secretly working on
a sequel and is close to finished.
This story goes on to tell how the orphan, Francis Fleming, makes his way in Brooklyn to live with Mae at the Apple Tree Tavern during those early times of his life. His adventures take him back to Ireland traveling by boat in the beginning of WWII. He arrives in Dublin to work even harder at a Flaherty's Pub than he ever did at the Apple Tree. Still, it is in Ireland where he reaches manhood and is taken out to the old cemetery to see how justice is delivered to a predator caught by the robed men and women who still practice THE OLD TRADITION.
MaryEllen is a raconteur, a gifted yarn spinner. She weaves and draws you into her rich, fascinating Irish tale. The era is well researched and the characters are vivid and poignant. Stalwart, honorable Francis Fleming is unforgettable. The women are formidable. The times are turbulent. This was an exciting read and l'm really looking forward to the rest of the series.
The author has obviously done her homework in order to bring us this engaging story about orphaned Francis (Francy) Fleming and his growing up years working in taverns both in Brooklyn and in Dublin. Her understanding and appreciation of Irish culture and traditions shine through every page as she brings her many characters to life. Readers get a strong sense of place and see her characters and events vividly through her writing.
One issue that I feel compelled to mention is that problems which arise in the book are solved too quickly and without much pain. The words mystery, suspense, and surprise should apply here. The author does create mysteries, as in the beginning when young Francy's father dies and he becomes an orphan. Next should come suspense: What will become of Francy? His fate could lie anywhere, and readers want to take the journey of suspense with him. Instead, a kindly policeman solves the problem right on the spot. No suspense; no surprise. I am reminded of something one of my critics once said to me: We see your characters suffer, but we never see them bleed. Readers need to see the blood.
Secrets of the Apple Tree Tavern moves smoothly from moment to moment over several difficult years of history. It is a pleasant journey, and I am pleased to have been invited along for the trip.