Book review by The Castle Bookshop

Straight from the Heart, edited by Bridget Hourican, is both a beautiful book and a piece of fascinating social history. It comprises more that 60 love letters ranging in time from 1694 to 1998.

Hourican's brilliant selection includes Yeats to Maud Gonne, correspondence between the tragic Francis Sheehy Skeffington and his wife Hannah, as well as that between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle. Three of the 1916 leaders, Thomas McDonagh, Joseph M Plunkett, and Eamonn Ceannt, are here as well as Michael Collins, John Millington Synge, and George Bernard Shaw. It even includes a love letter from Eamonn de Valera to his wife Sinead. Most touchingly we have a letter from Patrick Kavanagh to Hilda Moriarty, the beauty for whom he wrote Raglan Road.

The book also includes letters penned by ‘non celebrities’ as it were, with the book including letters from soldiers at the Front and from emigrants writing home to their sweethearts. These are often as eloquent and heartbreaking as those written by the literati or historical giants. This shows that love can raise any man (or woman ) to passion and to express themselves as eloquently as any of our finest poets, which gives us all hope as we endeavour to write that ‘perfect’ Valentine’s Day card to that special person.

Available at the Castle Bookshop on Castle Street, Castlebar, along with a wonderful selection of Valentine’s Day novels, cards and literature, including Shakespeare in Love. The Castle Bookshop has all your Valentine’s Day gift ideas under one roof along with a free gift wrapping service.

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