Thursday, February 4, 2021

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel: Review & Giveaway!

A Dance in Donegal

About the Book

All her life, Boston-born Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of the Emerald Isle. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira is compelled to fulfill her dying wish--that she become the teacher in Ballymann, the beloved village in Donegal, Ireland, she's heard so much about.

After an arduous voyage, Moira begins a challenging new job in an unfamiliar and 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.

About the Author

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.

My Thoughts

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel has Moira Doherty traveling to Ballymann, Ireland to teach.  Her mother had made the arrangements before she passed.  Some of the townspeople welcome Moira to her mother’s hometown, while others shun her and eye her suspiciously.  Moira has a feeling that there is something about her mother’s past that she failed to disclose.  Soon Moira has a group of close friends and Sean McFadden, the handsome thatcher, has caught her eye.  Will her mother’s secrets, though, mess up Moira’s new life?  A Dance in Donegal captures the beauty of Ireland.  You can tell Jennifer Deibel loves Ireland from her beautiful word imagery.  The Gaelic words and Irish customs helped to capture the locale.  Moira Doherty was a na├»ve young woman when she began her journey.  I liked the growth she experienced.  I also enjoyed the cast of colorful characters.  I like how the author described Moira’s emotions (very realistic).  God, faith, scripture, and prayer are incorporated into the story.  Moira brought her troubles to the Lord through prayer.  She relied on Him for comfort and guidance.  The romance was sweet and heartwarming.  I was glad that the author added the mystery into the story because it gave it additional depth.  A Dance in Donegal is a charming debut novel.  

Q & A with the Author

What was the inspiration for your book?

I started writing A Dance in Donegal as a way to process my emotions and experiences after our first two years in Ireland. My family and I lived in a tiny, rural village in far west Donegal—a place that eventually inspired the fictional village of Ballymann. As “blow ins,” we often struggled to break through barriers of suspicion and distrust, and it was very lonely and trying. However, over time, we were able to make deep, meaningful connections. Moira’s story is, in many ways, a mirror of my own experiences, but it takes a much deeper and richer look through the lens of a history and culture unlike any other in the world.

You and your family spent almost a decade living on the Emerald Isle. How did your experiences impact your novel?

Oh my goodness, how did our experiences not impact this novel! Had it not been for those two arduous, lonely, wonderful, exciting years in Donegal, we never would have come to know—and love—the Irish people and land as we do now. Those two years changed the trajectory of our entire lives, opening our eyes to the beauty that is Ireland and her people . . . and the rough and storied past that made her the enchanting Emerald Isle she is today. My heart and soul are echoed throughout the pages of this book, and our time spent there was the catalyst and inspiration for it all.

One of the themes in your book is living the life you were meant to live. Can you explain how this theme plays out in your book?

Throughout the story the main character, Moira, finds herself confronted with her own limitations as well as those placed on her by the local villagers. She faces decision after decision in which she must choose if she is going to do what is right, no matter the consequences. In her darkest moments, Moira questions her choice to move to Ballymann, but through her hardships, she comes to realize that she had to endure those difficulties in order to discover a deeper, richer love and joy than she would have ever dared to imagine.

Are there any other lessons embedded in the pages of your novel?

Along with the idea of doing the right thing no matter the consequences, themes of bravery, love, selflessness, and grace are woven throughout this book. It is my prayer that the picture of God’s grace and love for humanity would be apparent in a very natural and organic way and that readers would view how great, wide, deep, and long is the love of Jesus in a fresh way

Are you ready to read A Dance in Donegal?  You can find it at Amazon* (*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases).  Would you like to win a copy of A Dance in Donegal?  You can click here to visit the Audra Jennings blog where you can enter or enter via the Rafflecopter form below.  Good Luck!  Thank you for joining me today.  I hope I have helped you to find a new book and author.  Tomorrow I am featuring Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco.  It is the first An Oregon Honeycomb Mystery.  I hope you have a cozy day.  I am off to purchase a new washing machine.  Mine has decided to quit spinning (the whole drum unit needs replaced).  I then need painting supplies.  Unfortunately, a contractor took advantage of us and only painted our ceiling for an exorbitant amount.  I will now be painting the walls (it will take me a while, but I will get it done).  Take care, be kind, and Happy Reading!


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