Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

In the preface to one of his works, Donn Byrne made the rather immodest claim that he was the last of the great Irish storytellers. Certainly the statement was an exaggeration, but it nevertheless accurately identified the author’s two main appeals: his gift for engaging the reader’s imagination through romantic and effectively told tales; and his ability to capture in his prose the spirit of the Irish people and the beauty of the land where he grew up. All of Byrne’s fiction, whether novels or short stories, reflects these two concerns and reveals the author’s preoccupation with Irish themes and love of his childhood home.

DESTINY BAY was the first of a series of Byrne’s works that were published posthumously. In form, it is a collection of nine short stories that are unified by their common narrator, Kerry MacFarlane, who will inherit his uncle’s estate in Destiny Bay. The point of view of Kerry—a thinly disguised version of the author as a young man—gives consistency to the tales as does Byrne’s use of the same cast of characters throughout the book with a different character coming into prominence in each new story. The characterizations in DESTINY BAY are not deep, but they are colorful and memorable in their lovable eccentricities. Leading the cast is the protective, patriarchal figure of Uncle Valentine, with his red beard so huge that it covers his chest like a breastplate, and his blind sister Jenepher, who...

(The entire section is 582 words.)