Trinity – Leon Uris

I came across this book quite by accident, having just borrowed it from my niece for want of something new to read. Apparently I am the only one who doesn’t know who Leon Uris is, because when I was raving about the book at home, my mom and sister just said, “Oh no wonder, it’s Leon Uris.” I spent the past week reading until the wee hours of the morning because I just couldn’t put it down.

Trinity tells the story of Conor Larkin, an Irish farmer’s son, and is set against the backdrop of Ireland’s fight for independence. The “trinity” of the title refers to the Irish Catholics, the immigrant Protestants, and the British aristocracy who conquered Ireland. Conor comes from a simple village and just dreams of becoming a blacksmith and living a simple life.

We also follow the story of the Hubbles, who hold the Earldom in the Ulster province of Ireland, and the industrialist Frederick Weed. They represent the other sides of the trinity so we get a glimpse of their motivations and further understand how it all culminated in the Irish Revolution.

Conor is almost the ideal man. He is very handsome and strong, becomes a master blacksmith, plays professional rugby with no training, and all the women fall in love with him. But what stops the character from becoming annoyingly perfect is our knowledge that tragedy overshadows his life – he’s going to be in the thick of the struggle for independence because it’s just in his blood.  He comes from a family of revolutionaries, and we know from the beginning that this is the path he will follow, whether he wants to or not. He is a natural leader and he cannot turn his back on his country.

I was so into the book but some of the events towards the end still surprised me. I cried buckets, hoping against hope for some of the characters’ stories to turn out the way I wanted them to.

I think one big reason that Trinity resonated with me so much is that for about 400 years, the Philippines was a conquered country too. That history becomes a part of you, and you understand what it’s like to be the underdog. So of course, reading this book, I was rooting for the Irish from the start.

The story of how the Irish Catholics were considered second-class citizens was eye-opening too. I come from a country that’s 97% Catholic,  so reading about Catholicism being in the minority felt almost like the world had turned upside down.

Another thing that surprised me about this is finding out that it has never been made into a movie! How is that possible? This epic is just screaming to be filmed. The only person I can think of to play Conor Larkin is Michael Fassbender. It’s so sad that he’s the only Irish actor I know (sorry), but Conor is painted as practically perfect, so he can fit the bill. Still the question remains – why is this not a movie yet?

Trinity is not a history textbook but the background events depicted are real. A couple of chapters discuss the potato famine, and this is the first time I read about it and understood why it happened. Not only did I love the book, but Trinity made me want to learn more about the Irish story. And isn’t that what good books do? They open your mind and leave you thinking way after you turn the last page.

There is no mystery more intense than a man’s love for his country. It is the most terrible beauty of all. – Conor Larkin