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The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

About the Book

Title: The Maid of Ballymacool

Author: Jennifer Deibel

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2023

Genre: Historical Fiction

Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

About the Author

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic Magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona.

My Impressions

Most of us Americans would say we have a decent grasp on US history. But, alas, how many of us know much about other country’s historical struggles? Jennifer Deibel returns us to Donegal County, Ireland, to learn of Irish War of Independence in 1919, and the preceding years.

What better way to learn history than through a story, complete with a beautifully recounted love tale reminiscent of Cinderella. Deibel is a wordsmith, putting the reader in the forest to smell the musty earth, see the majestic trees, and hear their whispering in the wind. This makes meeting a secondary character, Finnuala, all the more mysterious and slightly spooky.

Do you love to have an antagonist that you can take out all your negative emotions on? If so, Deibel provides the perfect scapegoat. Oh, how I enjoyed the negative emotions that that person evoked, making my anger feel righteously justified!

The occasional Irish phrases, words, and slang, never exactly interpreted, but given great contextual clues; allgive great authenticity and local color to the novel.

Perhaps what I appreciate most, though, was that Deibel shows that there are evil and righteous people on both sides of the conflict. This is a truth our own country would do well to remember.

If you read only one foreign-set novel this year, consider The Maid of Ballymacool. If you are a fan of faith that produces growth, fairy-tale-like love stories, historical fiction of foreign countries, this is a book you won’t want to miss! I highly recommend anything Jennifer Deibel pens!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads, via NetGalley, plus I won a copy through For the Love of Books Giveaway, plus I bought my own ecopy. Keeper shelf material! No positive opinion was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“All she needed were her walks in the woods, her treasures, and the good Lord.”

“She had never really had minded the cold. It was all she had known in many ways.”

“No, he was dangerous because he awakened something far more treacherous in her. Something she couldn’t afford to cultivate. Something deadlier than any poison or illness. Hope.”

“We were not blessed with our position in the community in order to lord it over others. On the contrary. We must use our authority to stand up for those who cannot do so for themselves.”

“Yer purpose in this world has precious little to do with what job ya hold. It’s to do wi’ the way ya impact the people around ye.”

“tis only One who knows the whole truth, and it’s not our job to take that mantle upon ourselves. We’d crumble under the weight of it.”