Friend or Foe

This latest historical fiction from Brian Gallagher is set around the Easter Rising. Emer Davey and her Irish volunteer father are rebels, whereas Emer’s friend Jack Madigan and his father, a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, follow the rule of law. But Emer, a good swimmer, once saves Jack from drowning. Friends for life?

Emer has a great sense of presence and is mature beyond her years. Both Emer and Jack, although from comfortable backgrounds, become aware of the social, economic, class and religious fissures that define Dublin in the 1910s. Those cracks are effeciently exemplified by the snobbery of Sr Assumpta, the sterile nationalism of Br McGill and the grinding poverty that rules Gerry Quinn's life.

Although Emer and Jack share each other’s interests, their respective parents are uneasy about their friendship, due to the vexing question of the British rule in Ireland.

This is an exciting, well written adventure story, which captures the atmosphere of revolutionary Dublin and the misery and chaos of war. This book is a good addition to any school library and complements conventional school history texts. Finally the only addition I would suggest is a 1916 map of Dublin to assist the modern reader.