Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Girl Who Came Home

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   Just when you think you've read another Titanic story, there's another one. And if you are one of those readers who has wondered about how the passengers in steerage experienced this great American disaster, you'll want to read this book, or as I did, listen to it as an audio book. Two fine readers, Connor Kelly Erding and Alana Kerr bring emotional authenticity to this story by Hazel Gaynor, focusing on the passage of one Maggie Murphy from Ballysheen, Ireland. The book spans 70 years, in twin tales about Maggie's leaving Ireland in 1912, and her great-grand daughter reviving Maggie's story in 1982. The accents and sentimentality of the Irish pour through the tale, lavished in great detail, as one would hope for in an historical novel.
   I have to admit, I wanted to see clothes, as we all did in the movie Titanic, but hearing the lingering losses and lasting romance in this unforgettable moment in history was a panacea. And in truth, only the people in first class loaded their trunks onto the lifeboats, and the real story of Titanic is, as Maggie says, " is the people."
  Reading or listening to this book near St. Patrick's Day is a great idea, if you like sentimentality. You might also like to check out Ellis Island, by Kate Kerrigan, which features a young woman who moves to America in the 1920's while her heart aches for her poor Irish farmer husband at home, and an amazing graphic novel Gone to Amerikay, written by Derek McCulloch with art by Colleen Doran, about the Irish who wove themselves into American culture between the years 1870 to 1960, when our country elected its first Irish American President.

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