Thursday, September 28, 2023

Book Review: The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange

Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: August 1, 2023
Publisher: Celadon
Source: Personal Copy
Other Books By Author:  We Are the Brennans
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "When Tara Connelly is released from prison after serving eighteen months on a drug charge, she knows rebuilding her life at thirty years old won’t be easy. With no money and no prospects, she returns home to live with her siblings, who are both busy with their own problems. Her brother, a single dad, struggles with the ongoing effects of a brain injury he sustained years ago, and her sister’s fragile facade of calm and order is cracking under the burden of big secrets. Life becomes even more complicated when the cop who put her in prison keeps showing up unannounced, leaving Tara to wonder what he wants from her now. While she works to build a new career and hold her family together, Tara finds a chance at love in a most unlikely place. But when the Connellys’ secrets start to unravel and threaten her future, they all must face their worst fears and come clean, or risk losing each other forever. The Connellys of County Down is a moving novel about testing the bounds of love and loyalty. It explores the possibility of beginning our lives anew, and reveals the pitfalls of shielding each other from the bitter truth."



Geraldine, Eddie, and Tara had a difficult childhood with a criminal father and a mother who died young. Geraldine took the brunt of raising her two younger siblings and keeping the household the best she could. Years later, Eddie, suffering from a traumatic brain injury, struggles to be a single dad to his son, Conor, and leans on Geraldine for some help with that. Tara, the youngest of the three, has been in prison for eighteen months for drug trafficking. She is returning home to the Connelly house, but the they have major issues that need to be discussed. The biggest problem is that they avoid having real talks, but instead hold grudges and make assumptions. One thing is for sure, Eddie is happy to have Tara home as well as Conor, who has a good relationship with his aunt. However, returning home hasn't been easy for Tara. Geraldine took over Tara's room and has been acting strangely, and Brian Nolan, the detective who arrested her, has been showing Tara a lot of attention. Brian harbors secret feelings for Tara and feels such regret for arresting her, but his partner thinks she is still up to no good and is convinced she is a criminal. Tara tries to start her life over, but things don't go smoothly for the Connolly family and secrets start floating to the surface- secrets that could change their family forever. The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange is a satisfying novel focusing on family dynamics, the power of stories, as well as loyalty. 

I really liked Tara from the start of
The Connellys of County Down. I was really hoping she would start her life over after leaving jail and Lange truly highlights how difficult this can be for someone who has a criminal record, not to mention living in a household that is a bit chaotic. Geraldine took over Tara's room, (which has all her stuff!) and doesn't seem to want to give it back. Geraldine has some secrets of her own that she most definitely doesn't want her siblings to find out. Eddie, also withholding secrets for more complex reasons, is another flawed character, but my heart goes out to him. He had a traumatic brain injury, so life can be very challenging for him. He lives with his sister, so she can help him out with Conor, but Geraldine, after years of picking up everyone's pieces, is starting to fall apart. All three Connellys are flawed, but Lange makes them so real and complex that I couldn't help but root for them despite their major issues.

I liked how Lange depicts family dynamics so well and how that plays out in a complex family. She did this in We Are the Brennans and that is the case here in
The Connellys of County Down. Her writing focuses on loyalty among family, forgiveness, the importance of honesty as well. Based on the title, readers may think that County Down in Ireland plays a role in the story, but it's not what readers think. It is in reference to a story that their mother once told them that stays with the Connelly siblings, particularly Tara, to this day.

If you like a moving story about families, look no further. While this wasn't as good as We Are the Brennans, it was still a strong novel that I enjoyed. Lange made me care a lot about the Connellys, flaws and all. Have you read
The Connellys of County Down? Are you a fan of Tracey Lange? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. Sibling relationships can be so complex and it sounds like the author did a great job here!

    1. Yes! Lange did this well in Brennans, too. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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