September 1943: German forces occupy Rome. Gestapo boss Obersturmbannfèfuher Paul Hauptmann rules with terror. Hunger is widespread. Rumors fester. The war's outcome is far from certain. Diplomats, refugees, and escaped Allied prisoners flee for protection into Vatican City, at one fifth of a square mile the world's smallest state, a neutral, independent country within Rome. A small band of unlikely friends led by a courageous Irish priest is drawn into deadly danger as they seek to help those seeking refuge.
A...magnanimity—though of a more ebullient kind—infuses the work of the Irish writer Joseph O’Connor ... The overall tone of Mr. O’Connor’s new novel, My Father’s House, is, by contrast, more urgent than elegiac, and its suspenseful plot has little time for bittersweet rumination ... Mr. O’Connor re-creates with consummate skill while painting a subtle portrait of an erudite scholar who was also a defiant and formidable man of action ... For all its thrills, however, My Father’s House is primarily—and triumphantly—an intimate drama that illuminates both the fragility and the wonder of unlikely human connections forged in adversity and, in some cases, enduring for a lifetime.
Begins with a potent blend of excitement, suspense and intrigue ... The result is a gripping World War II-set drama featuring the unlikeliest of heroes, one whom the reader roots for every step of the way ... Hugely satisfying.
Masterly ... This is a literary thriller of the highest order. The incarnation of O’Flaherty, the Irish Oskar Schindler, is sublime. What often elevates a writer is compassion, and O’Connor has it in spades – paying tribute to the courage of those who resist tyranny. Beautifully crafted, his razor-sharp dialogue is to be savoured, and he employs dark humour to great effect. The plot twists keep on coming until the novel’s coda, where a final joyful conceit is revealed.