Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Came Home

Source: TLC Book Tours

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Titanic
Pages: 261 (paperback)
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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 Rating:
My Review
This book has a lovely long description so there isn't much that I can add but I'll try a bit.  This story is told through multiple perspectives and focuses on a small village who sent 14 people onto the Titanic all searching for a better life.  It also switches to the present time-ish perspectives of Grace Butler, great granddaughter of Maggie, one of the main storyteller's who lived through the Titanic tragedy.  We get a bit of mystery, a bit of growth, the expected tragedy, and a bit of romance.

I was quite torn about this one.  There were many aspects of this read that I thoroughly enjoyed.  So many years later and I still can't help my intrigue with the tragedy that is Titanic.  The story was unveiled in a fluid, though repetitive, manner.  Since we get the story told from multiple perspectives, sometimes conversations are repeated.  It was unique in that we were given a picture of what survivors experienced in the days after the tragedy.  I wanted more of that.  Usually the story ends with the sinking of the great ship.  Not in this one.  The end felt rushed and it came together too quickly for my tastes.  Since we all know what happens to the Titanic, Ms. Gaynor spent a lot of time developing the characters' emotions and introduced each characters individual conflicts.  At times this felt forced to me.  Perhaps a focus on fewer characters might have allowed a stronger connection.  I also don't know that Grace's story was necessary.  I would have preferred more time developing the story of the past.

We all know what happens to the Titanic; it isn't much of a surprise.  Since there couldn't be a surprise in this aspect of the plot, I wish that there was more intrigue and surprise in other parts of the plot.  I wish there was something that moved the story along rather than just waiting for the moment that the Titanic would sink.  I believe this to be a personal (impatient) issue that I had and I don't feel that it took away from the story.

Overall, I wanted more from this one but still felt satisfied at the end.  Ms. Gaynor did an awesome job describing how survivors weren't saved by merely getting on a lifeboat but had other issues and problems.  This was the most intriguing to me.

If you are as intrigued by the Titanic, you'll enjoy this one quite a bit.
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  1. This looks so interesting. I love stories about major historical events with Fictional characters. Might have to add this one to the growing TBR list

    1. I'm such a historical fiction nut. Events like this lend itself to so many perspectives.

  2. I am a bit unsure to be honest, I just can't say

  3. Doesn't sound fab. Pity. I'm pretty must obsessed with Titanic tales.

    1. It's good but I wanted fab. My expectations might have been unreasonable.

  4. It's amazing how a tragedy like this captures our imagination even after so many years.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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