Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe (Derrynane Saga) Book 2 by Kevin O’Connell

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Two Journeys HomeAt a little over six-feet tall, long raven hair, intelligent beyond her years and Irish, all describe the beautiful Eileen O’Connell as she returns to her home in Ireland after spending almost six years in the court of Empress Maria Theresa. Her duties in Austria are as nanny and friend to two of the young princesses, Archduchesses Maria Carolina and Maria Antonia. Part of her task is also to prepare each of them for their royal lives of the future, hopefully queens.

Many years ago, Eileen had been raised in western County Kerry in Ireland. Her family had earned their wealth by investing in illegal commercial maritime trading activities.
After her sixteenth birthday, Eileen’s family had arranged for her to marry a man, over fifty-years her senior. Unsurprisingly, she had hated being his young wife in this arranged situation, but within seven-months of the marriage, she had learned to love and cherish him. His death was a shock to her. The obvious solution for a wealthy young woman of the 1760s in Ireland is to be remarried.

For Eileen, however, there exists another option. Her Irish relatives were already thriving in the Hapsburg court under the direction of the Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Hungary. Her “uncle”, actually her second-cousin who is much older, is a General of the Imperial Armies of Austria and Hungary as well as being The Count Moritz O’Connell. Since Ireland at this time was ruled by the English, for any Irish to join the military in their own country, required enlisting in the British army currently occupying their country. For many, especially those of wealth, serving in foreign countries greatly raised their wealth, prestige, knowledge of strategies, and respect of those at home.

As the book opens, she is finally returning to the O’Connells’ home at Derrynane.
On this voyage home, she is accompanied by the General and his new wife, Countess Maria von Graffenreit-O’Connell. Eileen has mixed feelings about her home. Is it Vienna with her friend and lover, Major Wolfgang von Klaus or is home Ireland? She realizes that besides making close friends with the royal family, this had also given her time to heal as she learns of the magnificent lives at the palaces of Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Laxenburg.

Reading the second book in most series, especially if you have not read the first, can be a little difficult. However, Two Journeys Home is easily understandable with much of the first book being reflected upon.

This book begins with Eileen’s journey to Ireland, back to the life in Vienna at court bringing into light the history of the time period after the Seven Years War between France and Austria including Marie Antoinette. This sequel concludes with her second return to Ireland.

There are conflicts, especially within her family and the expectations, as well as religion and culture of the countries and time period. Surprisingly, much of the story seems to fit together as tightly as a puzzle.

Author, Kevin O’Connell has based this Derrynane series on much of his own family history, mixing what could have logically happened into an historical fiction novel. He is a New York City native whose ancestor had been part of the Irish Brigade of the French army during the time of Marie Antoinette. The Derrynane saga is expected to include four novels, starting with Beyond Derrynane and the second, Two Journeys Home.

Mr. O’Connell has spent over forty-years in the legal field of international business transactional law throughout the world.

Two Journeys Home is part of a wonderful epic-saga in the past of Ireland, Austria, and France.