Friday, June 27, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home (Book Review)

On the first Thursday of every month, I meet with some wonderful people who I really love hanging out with to discuss whatever book we have picked to read for the month at our previous book club meeting. The way we chose is everyone chooses one book they would like to read, we through them in a hat and pick out a winner. This month the book I threw in the proverbial hat was chosen- The Girl Who Came Home. I love to read in any genre, but I have a special place for my heart for historical fiction rooted in actual events that have occurred. Thinking about a book's characters and how the people who actually went through the events being portrayed is fascinating and heartbreaking all at the same time!

About the book-

Inspired by true events surrounding a group of Irish emigrants who sailed on the maiden voyage of R.M.S Titanic, The Girl Who Came Home is a story of enduring love and forgiveness, spanning seventy years. It is also the story of the world’s most famous ship, whose tragic legacy continues to captivate our hearts and imaginations one hundred years after she sank to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean with such a devastating loss of life. 

In a rural Irish village in April 1912, seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy is anxious about the trip to America. While the thirteen others she will travel with from her Parish anticipate a life of prosperity and opportunity - including her strict Aunt Kathleen who will be her chaperon for the journey - Maggie is distraught to be leaving Séamus, the man she loves with all her heart. As the carts rumble out of the village, she clutches a packet of love letters in her coat pocket and hopes that Séamus will be able to join her in America soon. 

In Southampton, England, Harry Walsh boards Titanic as a Third Class Steward, excited to be working on this magnificent ship. After the final embarkation stop in Ireland, Titanic steams across the Atlantic Ocean. Harry befriends Maggie and her friends from the Irish group; their spirits are high and life on board is much grander than any of them could have ever imagined. Being friendly with Harold Bride, one of the Marconi radio operators, Harry offers to help Maggie send a telegram home to Séamus. But on the evening of April 14th, when Titanic hits an iceberg, Maggie’s message is only partly transmitted, leaving Séamus confused by what he reads. 

As the full scale of the disaster unfolds, luck and love will decide the fate of the Irish emigrants and those whose lives they have touched on board the ship. In unimaginable circumstances, Maggie survives, arriving three days later in New York on the rescue ship Carpathia. She has only the nightdress she is wearing, a small case and a borrowed coat, to her name. She doesn’t speak of Titanic again for seventy years.

In Chicago, 1982, twenty-one year old Grace Butler is stunned to learn that her Great Nana Maggie sailed on Titanic and sets out to write Maggie's story as a way to resurrect her journalism career. When it is published, Grace receives a surprising phone call, starting a chain of events which will reveal the whereabouts of Maggie’s missing love letters and the fate of those she sailed with seventy years ago. But it isn't until a final journey back to Ireland that the full extent of Titanic’s secrets are revealed and Maggie is able to finally make peace with her past.

My thoughts- 

This novel is basically Maggie telling her granddaughter Grace about her experience on the Titanic through her journals, but it is about more than just Maggie. It is about several people from one Parish in Ireland and what they thought would be their journey to a new life. You want to root for them all to survive, but knowing from history that not many survived the ship sinking, you know that at least some people you have grown to care for are not going to make it to the end. The characters are all very well developed. I quickly fell in love with scampy Henry and knew somehow that he would play a central roll in rescue efforts. Of course, being in love with being in love, I wanted to know what happened between Maggie and Seamus. If in the end they were able to find each other again. I also wanted to know if Grace would have a happy ending with her man after suffering such heartache and kind of a pause in her own life. I thought the parallel story of grandmother and granddaughter was nice. I really enjoyed The Girl Who Came Home. When I got to the end and read the afterward, I learned that the group of Irish people that Maggie set sail with were based on a real group of people and for me, that makes the story even more interesting. I also love when I read novels that include discussion questions at the end as this one did! It helps get the conversation going at book club meetings and even if the book I am reading is not one I am going to discuss, it allows me to ponder further on what I have just read when I am not ready to be done with the story. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance or anyone who is interested in the Titanic 

Hazel Gaynor's Wesbite

Get this NY Times best seller on right now for just $1.99! Can't really be that low price!!

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