Books

A Wrong to Sweeten


Ireland in the 1800’s. Two schoolfriends and a  family divided by envy and greed.

The powerful O’Briens of Crag Liath in County Clare were proud of their great estate and their descent from Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland. But they were also a family divided by envy and fraternal resentment.

Tom, the elder brother, lived only for today, while Dermot obsessively loved the estate that could never be his. Two Limerick schoolfriends, Miliora and Rosaleen, had their ambitions, too. But when their lives intertwined with the O’Briens, they found that envy can darken to madness, that love and hatred, loyalty and betrayal, breed side by side – and that even love that is true and deep can be dishonoured by secrecy and hypocrisy.

“A WRONG TO SWEETEN is a perceptive historical novel which shows a mastery that is rare in a first work of fiction”   – Personality Magazine

“Most impressive. A fine novel. Joy Martin carries her story with great skill.”   – Benedict Kiely

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A Heritage of Wrong

Sin of the mothers. Sin of the sons.

Seven years after their hasty departure from Ireland, Rosaleen and Cathal O’Mahoney can at last return to their homeland with their young daughter, Aoibheal.

Having reluctantly entrusted the care of her twin sons, Daniel and Eugene, to the redoubtable Milliora O’Brien, Rosaleen anticipates a joyful reunion. But while compassionate Daniel is able to come to terms with his mother’s actions, Eugene, a fiery and talented artist, harbours a simmering resentment.

Kate Keegan, childhood friend and burgeoning actress, gradually becomes tragically ensnared in the twins’ complex web of feelings, as does Aoibheal. As the two young women are forced to atone for the sins of another generation and as the bitter conflicts in Ireland and Europe reflect the turmoil of troubled relationships, the heritage of wrong bequeathed to this generation must finally be confronted and vanquished.

“It’s the kind of reading that will bring back the book. Joy Martin is a fine novelist.”  – Booklook

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Ulick’s Daughter

Secrets of the Past

Eva Dillon is the illegitimate daughter of Ulick John de Burgh, 14th Earl of Clanricarde.   Passionate and reckless, she has inherited much from her father, but not his most important asset – a name and a status in society.   The vast Galway estates and the dreadful right to hound and destroy its tenants have been passed to Ulick’s second son, the mysterious Hubert, who revels in his new-found power.

Eva refuses to be cowed by him, and sets out to claim her rightful legacy.   It is a quest which will take her from the turbulent streets of Dublin to the glittering world of Imperial Russian society – a testing journey through the secrets of her past.

‘Joy Martin’s third novel is well up to the standard of her previous two.  Readable and entertaining.’ Preview.

‘She has a lovely sense of style, in the writing itself and in the people, places and periods she picks on, and a sharp feeling for history.’ Ben Kiely.

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The Moon is Red in April

Freedom of the Heart

Ireland, 1744, and the young Catholic Richard O’Shaughness embarks on a perilous journey to escape the harsh Penal Laws and to fight for his country in France.   En route he meets the rich Philip Cantillon, and together they pursue their studies in Paris with the intention of joining the Irish Brigade.

Left behind in Ireland is Richard’s childhood sweetheart, Ellen, whose fiery and determined nature leads her to travel to the Cantillons’ family home in Cognac in search of the man she loves.   But their reunion is scarcely as Ellen imagined, and her encounter with the beautiful Catherine Cantillon proves fateful for all their lives, and for generations to come.

A saga of rivalry and passion evoking the restless spirit of 18th century Europe.

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The Image of Laura

Pre-war Berlin to London in the 1990s.  A long Lost Treasure. A hidden life.

Laura Conway is a brilliant photographer, famed throughout the world for her unique shots of subjects as diverse as the innocent children and drop-outs of pre-war Berlin to the long-legged catwalk models of the hedonistic 1970s. Now she is seventy-five and the art world is celebrating her birthday with a retrospective of her achievements.

And there is to be a surprise: Laura’s grand-daughter, Cassie, has discovered Laura’s hand-crafted desk which she’d left behind when she fled Germany from the Nazis. But, at the moment of unveiling, the piece de resistance, the prize of the party, causes Laura more distress than joy. What is the secret of the desk and how is it connected with Laura’s previous life in Berlin?

‘IMAGE OF LAURA: a plot which never falters; background research which enhances but does not shout its presence; an ability to raise the odd laugh; and no cheap happy ending’ – The Bookshelf

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Seeking Clemency

Carrigrua, the graceful blue-grey Georgian manor in County Clare which plays such a pivotal role in Seeking Clemency, is the property of the Conroy family.   To Olive Conroy, the family matriarch, the house is the fulfilment of her considerable social ambitions.   But to her grand-daughter, Caroline, Carrigrua is more than that.   Much more.   For Caroline’s fragile sense of self-worth is allied to the house, and to the Conroy family.

To Caroline, as a child, the Conroys were ‘quasi-divine: as noble as the British royals.   As golden as the Kennedys.’  

After spending her early childhood in Carrigrua, she was devastated when her grandmother kicked her out and sent her to live with her father in England.

But that was something she’d been expecting.   As she says: ‘I didn’t make it as a Conroy… I was a failure; second-rate.   I knew that, and so did Olive: you could see it on her face.’

Was Caroline right about that ?   Or was there another, more sinister reason why Olive Conroy forced her to leave Carrigrua ?   Caroline has suppressed the answer.    But shards of memory begin to return when, after an absence of 30 years, she returns to the house she loves.

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Twelve Shades of Black


By Joy Martin writing as Joy Kuhn

This is a book about people – black people – people with an identity.   You may not feel that all of them are nice but, as Joy Martin points out in these interviews with the people of the townships around Johannesburg during the apartheid era, it is as insulting to a man to maintain that he is worthwhile simply because he is black as to dismiss him for the same reason.

What comes out of these shades of black is sometimes simple, sometimes subtle and sometimes simply frightening.   The patience of a priest whose flock take religion with a pinch of witchcraft; the witch doctress who loves cars and whose intimidated patients pay her for charms on HP; the millionaire businessman who speaks through an interpreter; the poet who lets go his suppressed anger.

An illumination of the shadowed life of Soweto, Eldorado Parkand Alexandra Township…the talent, generosity, courage, greed, love – and, incredibly, the humour.

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