Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

In this novel, Samuel Lover combines the Irish raciness of Maria Edgeworth with the historical sense of Sir Walter Scott. The result is a sprightly romp through a period in Irish history when its destiny was briefly involved with that of Napoleon. Had Bonaparte activated his plan to attack England by supporting Irish independence, the history of Britain might have been significantly altered; the Irish question, after all, has haunted British politics to the present day.

The historical theme is treated seriously by Lover, and it provides the basis for the plot, but what is chiefly memorable about his work is the humorous speech and dialogue of his characters. Their words are energetic, colorful, and always earthy. Even Rory, the hero of the novel, has a touch of the poet and orator in him: “In throth the counthry would be ’quite’ enough if they’d let us be ’quite’; but it’s gallin’ and aggravatin’ us they are at every hand’s turn, and puttin’ the martial law on us, and callin’ us bad names, and abusin’ our blessed religion.”

Rory is a not-so-distant cousin of Handy Andy, Lover’s most famous and beloved creation, a hero with a great talent for doing the wrong thing and a genius for escaping the consequences of his own blunders. Rory is shrewder than Handy Andy, but he has the same impish quality. Lover was primarily a humorist and entertainer, but he managed in RORY O’MORE to be true to his comic genius...

(The entire section is 420 words.)