Sunday, September 7, 2014

Book Review: Johnny McClintock's War by Gerry McCullough.

Gerry McCullough has been writing poems and stories since childhood. Brought up in north Belfast, she graduated in English and Philosophy from Queen's University, Belfast, then went on to gain an MA in English.
She lives just outside Belfast, in Northern Ireland, has four grown up children and is married to author, media producer and broadcaster, Raymond McCullough, with whom she co-edited the Irish magazine, 'Bread', (published by Kingdom Come Trust), from 1990-96. In 1995 they published a non-fiction book called, 'Ireland - now the good news!'
Over the past few years Gerry has had more than sixty short stories published in UK, Irish and American magazines, anthologies and annuals - as well as broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. Her poems and articles have been published in several Northern Ireland and UK magazines, and she has also done readings from her novels, poems and short stories at several Irish literary events. She writes a regular literary blog - Gerry's Books - and guest writes for several other literary blogs.
Gerry won the Cúirt International Literary Award for 2005 (Galway); was shortlisted for the 2008 Brian Moore Award (Belfast); shortlisted for the 2009 Cúirt Award; and commended in the 2009 Seán O'Faolain Short Story Competition, (Cork).
She is now also an Amazon best-selling novellist and her novels include:
'Belfast Girls' a thriller/romance (Nov 2010, Night Publishing - 2nd edition June, 2012, Precious Oil Publications)
'Danger, Danger' (October, 2011 - Precious Oil)
'Angel in Flight: the first Angel Murphy thriller' (June 2012 - Precious Oil)
'The Seanachie: Tales of Old Seamus' (January, 2012 - Precious Oil) her first collection of Irish short stories , previously published in an Irish weekly magazine.
'Lady Molly & The Snapper' (August, 2012 - Precious Oil) - a young adult time travel adventure, set in Ireland and on the high seas.
'Angel in Belfast: the 2nd Angel Murphy thriller' (June 2013 - Precious Oil)
The Cúirt Award-winning story, 'Primroses,' and the Seán O'Faolain commended story, 'Giving Up,' have been extended and re-written as part of a series of seven more serious Irish short stories - to be published later in 2014, with another of these stories, 'Not the End of the World' - a comic, futuristic, adult fantasy novel and another collection of Seanachie lighthearted, Irish stories.

Book Description
Publication Date: August 11, 2014
The story of one man’s struggle to maintain his faith in spite of everything life throws at him.

As the outbreak of the First World War looms closer, John Henry McClintock, a Northern Irish Protestant by upbringing, meets Rose Flanagan, a Catholic, at a gospel tent mission – and falls in love with her.

When Johnny enlists and sets off to fight in the War he finds himself surrounded by death and tragedy, which pushes his trust in God to the limit.

After more than five years absence he returns home to a bitter, war torn Ireland, where both he and Rose are seen as traitors to their own sides.

John Henry and Rose overcome all opposition and, finally, marry. But a few years later comes the hardest blow of all. Can John Henry still hang on to his faith in God?

My review of ‘Johnny McClintock’s War.’

John Henry McClintock, a young, idealistic, Northern Irish Protestant holds his belief in God dear to his heart, it is pivotal to who he is, pivotal in his interactions with the others that share his belief. 

When he meets Rose Flanagan a Catholic girl, he has to redefine his belief system. Surely a love as strong as the one between himself and the lovely Rose can overcome the ingrained prejudices of his volatile countrymen.

Confident that this love could withstand any test, Johnny McClintock enlists in the armed forces and is sent out to face the horrors of World War One. Horrors that will make any of us cry in our despair that this war was not and sadly will never be the war to end all wars.

Author Gerry McCullough has a deep insight into what drives her characters. Because of this each of her characterizations are very real to the reader, inviting us to step inside their lives, we laugh with them, and we cry for them, we invest ourselves emotionally and want so badly for their love for one another to hold fast against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Rose is forced to deal with the ugly side of life, before she’d ever had a real chance to experience the wonders that it can and does hold.

Johnny McClintock has his faith tested, again and again on the battlefield and in the foxholes. The sights sounds and smells of frail humans forced into inhuman circumstances, make his days red with blood and his nightmares imbed themselves into his soul.

 Death is his constant companion, and he fights to understand how a loving God could allow this inhumanity to exist. He fights to hold on to his beliefs just as strongly as he fought on this other field of battle. Both took their toll on his soul.

He returns home, no longer young. Circumstances have decreed that he will never again be the young man that left his beautiful Northern Ireland five years before.

The author understands his pain and allows us to share in it.

This insight makes his love for Rose especially poignant, and it needs to be a strong love to endure the prejudices and attacks of people who look at them from both sides and relegate them to traitor status.

Johnny and his Rose marry and are tested over and over again.

 I will not spoil the ending of this beautifully written book. Suffice it to say that their ultimate challenge looms large.

Will their love and faith in God survive? You must read the book.

The author has taken the reader on a journey of discovery, a journey that is fast paced, touching and sadly all to real.

I can’t say more, apart from the fact that I recommend this work highly to anyone who looks for depth, plausibility, and human frailties in what they choose to read. I will be reading this again and am certain I will discover still more layers of real life within its pages.

I congratulate author Gerry McCullough on this work...I have read most of her other books and enjoyed them immensely; but this ...this one stands proudly alone, a book that should be required reading for all those that sit distant and safe from the wars they help create.


  1. Soooz, this is so lovely of you. I'm not only delighted, I'm also very moved by the things you've said about my new book. Thank you so much, dear.

    1. I meant every word, Gerry. Your book is currently up in the top three of my favorite reading experiences for 2014

  2. A beautiful entry, Soooz. This sounds like a very moving book indeed, and yet another to add to my must-read list! Anything with Gerry's name to it is always a guarantee of quality as far as I'm concerned.

    1. Mike! Lovely to see you. Yes this is my favorite so far of Gerry's. It kinda hit me where I live.


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