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The Canal Bridge

A Novel of Ireland, Love, and the First World War

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In 1913, before there is a rumor of war in Europe, Matthias Wrenn and Con Hatchel, lifelong friends from Ballyrannel in the Irish midlands, decide to see the world at the expense of the king of England and join the British army. A year later, while en route to India, their troop ship is recalled and they soon find themselves in the European slaughterhouse that was World War I. As stretcher bearers, the two men witness all too closely the horrors of the battlefield and the trenches, the savagery, and the unconscionable waste of human life on fields made liquid by “the blood and guts of boy soldiers” at the Somme, Ypres, and Passchendaele. Meanwhile, back home in Ireland, Con’s sister and Matthias’s lover, Kitty Hatchel, yearns for their safe return and reminds them of their carefree childhood on the banks of the local canal, as well as their hopes for the future.

Brilliantly and movingly narrated by a chorus of voices from the community — Matt, Con, Kitty, and others — The Canal Bridge tells the story of how the young men take Ballyrannel to war with them, and how the war comes back home when hostilities end in Europe. The Ireland the friends left in 1913 no longer exists, for the political landscape has been transformed by the Rising against the British in 1916. It is now a land riven with sectarian tensions and bloodshed from which there is no escape.

Skyhorse Publishing, as well as our Arcade, Yucca, and Good Books imprints, are proud to publish a broad range of books for readers interested in fiction—novels, novellas, political and medical thrillers, comedy, satire, historical fiction, romance, erotic and love stories, mystery, classic literature, folklore and mythology, literary classics including Shakespeare, Dumas, Wilde, Cather, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

“Tom Phelan's The Canal Bridge is the best novel of love in the time of war since Cold Mountain. It is an old-fashioned story in the very best sense: dramatic, passionate, unpredictable, gorgeously written, heartbreakingly true, ultimately ennobling. This is truly a great book. I loved every page.” —Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg

“The Canal Bridge is a tour de force of writing, passionate, moving, and brilliant. Here is World War I in all its madness, and its terrible humanity.” —Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

“There is no false bravado in Phelan’s riveting, unsparing account, no sentimentality, no hollow heroes, no hyper-patriotic blather. Phelan’s characters live and breathe and bleed. Phelan’s fiction is the real thing. The Canal Bridge is a classic.” —Peter Quinn, author of The Banished Children of Eve and Dry Bones

“Another First World War masterpiece . . . Ambitious, accomplished, and deeply moving.” —Irish Independent
“Effectively constructed and emotionally honest . . . the reader gains a new perspective on how the Great War decimated lives throughout Europe." —Booklist, starred review

“Masterful . . . Must be ranked among the most successful novels dealing with the First World War.” —Irish Emigrant

“Phelan is a marvelous storyteller. Don’t miss out on a great contemporary author.” —Irish Eyes (Paris)

“Incredibly moving story . . . The writing is consistently stunning.” —Irish Echo

“The Canal Bridge sings and weeps . . . Thrilling.” —Celtic Connection

“Powerful and deeply affecting.” —Books Ireland

“More than just a war story . . . Tom Phelan has created a powerfully imagined story from these little known years of that war . . . [He] handles his narrative voices extraordinarily well.” —allinoneboat.org

“Tom Phelan's The Canal Bridge is the best novel of love in the time of war since Cold Mountain. It is an old-fashioned story in the very best sense: dramatic, passionate, unpredictable, gorgeously written, heartbreakingly true, ultimately ennobling. This is truly a great book. I loved every page.” —Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg

“The Canal Bridge is a tour de force of writing, passionate, moving, and brilliant. Here is World War I in all its madness, and its terrible humanity.” —Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd

“There is no false bravado in Phelan’s riveting, unsparing account, no sentimentality, no hollow heroes, no hyper-patriotic blather. Phelan’s characters live and breathe and bleed. Phelan’s fiction is the real thing. The Canal Bridge is a classic.” —Peter Quinn, author of The Banished Children of Eve and Dry Bones

“Another First World War masterpiece . . . Ambitious, accomplished, and deeply moving.” —Irish Independent
“Effectively constructed and emotionally honest . . . the reader gains a new perspective on how the Great War decimated lives throughout Europe." —Booklist, starred review

“Masterful . . . Must be ranked among the most successful novels dealing with the First World War.” —Irish Emigrant

“Phelan is a marvelous storyteller. Don’t miss out on a great contemporary author.” —Irish Eyes (Paris)

“Incredibly moving story . . . The writing is consistently stunning.” —Irish Echo

“The Canal Bridge sings and weeps . . . Thrilling.” —Celtic Connection

“Powerful and deeply affecting.” —Books Ireland

“More than just a war story . . . Tom Phelan has created a powerfully imagined story from these little known years of that war . . . [He] handles his narrative voices extraordinarily well.” —allinoneboat.org

More books from this author: Tom Phelan