OH. MY. DAYS. This book is incredible.
Ireland, 1912 . . .
Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.
Chicago, 1982 . . .
Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.
Inspired by true events surrounding a group of fourteen Irish emigrants who left their homes in County Mayo, Ireland, to travel on Titanic to relatives in America, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy’s impact and it’s lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.
I repeat – OH. MY. DAYS. This book is incredible.
I have been obsessed with the story of the Titanic since I was little girl who watched the black and white 1958 adaptation: ‘A night to remember’ sat upon my mum’s bed. I was only small, yet utterly caught up in the romance, the horror, the sadness and the sheer unbelievableness of one nights tragic events – and then to discover it was a true story! It broke my heart, yet started an obsession that has never left.
Fast forward to 1997 when as eleven year olds my friends and I snuck in to see Leo and Kate’s maiden voyage in James Cameron’s adaptation “Titanic”. The film was given an age certificate of 12 and for a very good reason, it was traumatic! I started crying as the water took hold of the vessel and continued to sob all the way through…and on the way home…and for weeks afterwards. Every time I think of the water-tight doors slamming down on the doomed men stoking the furnaces, or the young mother telling her children about heaven as the water swept into their cabin, or the fact that I was so sure up till the last minute that Jack was going to survive… and finally then the strongest image in my head – the old couple holding each other tight as the water swells around their bed …oh I’m welling up even now.
You can perhaps now understand my excitement when I heard a new book had been written about the Titanic. I’ve read a few factual accounts but this is the first fictional (though based in fact) novel I had heard of that follows the before, during and after of the events that unfold around the maiden voyage. (I’ve just learnt that there was a ‘A night to remember’ book on which the adaptation was based, it’s now in my Amazon basket) I obviously showed my excitement about ‘The girl who came home’ as twitter as the publishers kindly got in touch and sent me a copy to review. Never has a book been so eagerly awaited!
I read it in two sittings and rushed to tell everyone how good it was… yet found that it’s extremely hard to review simply because I don’t want to give away any more information then the blurb above already does! Gaynor writes with beautiful emotion, the narrative moves seamlessly between the 17-year-old schoolgirl facing a new life abroad, and the 84-year-old great-aunt finally revealing intimate details of the tragic events that unfollowed. Gaynor’s obvious passion for the story, the depth of her research and therefore the level of detail within her descriptions is astounding. Her emotional writing bewitches you; as a reader you know how the story will end, you know the ship sinks and you know that Maggie, the narrator, survives – as she is telling you the story. Yet this does not in any way hamper or dilute the feelings of utter helplessness, destruction and desperate grief you share with Maggie as her story unfolds.
A beautiful personal account of a young girls journey on the ill-fated Titanic. This telling will both break and warm your heart in equal measure. It’s been a fair while since I’ve been so moved by a tale. Everyone should read this book.
‘The girl who came home’ was released last month and is available to buy here. Find out more about the book, read a sample chapter and discover the author Hazel Gaynor at her website. In addition to writing historical fiction, Hazel writes a popular guest blog, Carry on Writing, Oh and be sure to follow her on twitter too!
Hazel Gaynor is ‘a name to remember’!