A Dance in Donegal: fiction review AND GIVEAWAY

I have good news and great news. The good news is this fantastic book is also being given away, see the link at the end of this post to enter in the next two days. The great news is that A Dance in Donegal is Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel and there is sure to be more!


“All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends–and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced–as she seeks to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live. “

For me, the highlight of this book was the vivid setting and authentic language. Deibel laces Irish Gaelic into the entire book and not only is it an educational experience but also entertaining. I did a combination of reading and listening with this story and for that I am grateful. Listening to it (I used the Libby app from my local library, who purchased the book upon my request!) allowed me to hear the pronunciation of the words, and boy would I have had it all wrong.

Reading the book myself allowed me to flip between the page where I was reading and the glossary of terms in the back. Let me tell you, accessing those first-grade reading strategies like “use the whole sentence (aka context) to help me understand a word,” was not cutting it with Irish Gaelic.

I have traveled to Ireland several times and have friends who speak and were taught Gaelic in their formative years. I think they’d get a real kick out of the story, hearing the language in the context of Moira’s story and at the simple fact that I love it so much. Deibel did a fantastic job of weaving the characters, faith, the setting, and the storyline itself into a beautiful tapestry. The depth and genuine spirit of Deibel’s characters created a connectedness to them and a true investment into how the story turned out.

There was enough excitement, drama, and also enough dynamic in the interpersonal relationships to keep me turning pages and to be fully invested. I love a book that I am truly invested in! This same balance lent itself to a believability that can sometimes be lacking in Historical (romance) Fiction. The cover drew me in and I found the story to be equally captivating. I could feel the dampness, smell the peat, taste the tea, hear the wails of mourning, the Irish lilt to their voices, and even feel the Gaelic start to roll off my tongue with more ease as Moira herself learned to adapt and assimilate. That is one great story! I highly recommend Diebel’s debut novel and will have my eyes peeled for more from her as well.

“Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel delights the senses, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a lush country and a colorful people. Historical romance fans will embrace her with open arms.”

You can enter to win a copy of the book using this, Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks to Read with Audra for my digital copy of the book and to the publishers as well. All opinions shared here are my own.

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and other publications. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children.

You can find her online at www.jenniferdeibel.comFacebook (@JenniferDeibelAuthor), and Instagram (@jenniferdeibel_author).

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