Saturday 10 June 2023

Book Review: A Man of Honour by Simon Smith

 A Man of Honour


Simon Smith

Publisher: Echo Publishing
Publication date: 7th February 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 307
RRP: $32.99AU (Paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

 My review of A Man of Honour

Simon Smith says in his prologue the seed of this story was planted in his mind as a young boy when his mother sat him down and told him the story of his ancestor; a young man who tried to assassinate  a prince.

A Man of Honour is a powerful story, beautifully told through polished prose. Smith's writing is old worldly and lyrical. The realness of the time, the setting, the language and characters make this an immersive read. O'Farrell was a master of subterfuge and I could feel his charisma working its charm throughout the novel. O'Farrell believed he was exacting revenge for all Irish by killing the one person that was so loved by Queen Victoria. But was he a terrorist, a patriot or a madman?

Simon Smith uses both fact and fiction in this retelling of the life and ultimate execution of Henry James O'Farrell the Irish born Australian who shot and injured Prince Alfred during his visit to Australia in 1868.

Every character in this story is a real person and Smith uses artistic license to add the thoughts and emotions of his characters. Many of the conversations are copied from real transcripts kept in archives and some of the letters of correspondence are copies of the actual letters sent. Smith's acknowledgement of sources shows the research was extensive.
The plot does jump all over the place with the point of view often changing, however well detailed chapter headings let the reader know precisely where you are in the story.
A Man of Honour is a mesmerizing story of a man who may or may not have been completely sound of mind, but he was misled by his friends and paid the ultimate price for his crime. 

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Simon Smith has travelled the world for most of his life as a freelance cinematographer. From a small village on the island of Pentecost in Vanuatu, to the rehearsal room of an Ibsen play in Brooklyn, to a Foreign Legion barracks in France, to refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border, to camping out with First Nations artists in the Great Sandy Desert, he has relished hearing remarkable people's stories and sharing them with the wider world. Now he has swapped his camera for pen and paper, and become a storyteller himself. A Man of Honour is his debut novel.
Simon lives with his partner and their congenial cat Danny Boy in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

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