Gallagher’s Prize is the story of an Irish Catholic family and in particular the two sons Jack and Eamonn. The book starts when the patriarch of the family dies and under English Law the farming land is divided and becomes uneconomic. The first third of the book follows the eldest son Thorne who gives up farming to become a successful ship’s chandler supplying the English fleet. This leads to a host of conflicting priorities as his family make friends amongst the English, but are they really accepted? Thorne’s sons have loyalties on opposite sides, one joining the Royal Navy and the other joining the struggle for independence and eventually the French fleet.
For the naval enthusiast the book really comes to life at this point as the plot twists and turns around the strands that join and divide the brothers until Jack breaks his bonds with the English and serves with the American Navy in the War of 1812.
The book is a very well written book with a lot of well fleshed out characters from various nationalities. It had a good pace that held my attention well and despite the numerous books that have been written about the navies of this period had a fresh feel.
There were a few minor naval anachronisms but they did not detract from what was a good read. Highly Recommended.