Monday, April 21, 2014

G262 Book Review of The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Name of Book: The Girl Who Came Home

Author: Hazel Gaynor

ISBN: 978-0-06-231686-8

Publisher: William Morrow

Type of book: Titanic, Ireland, third class, steward, iceberg, 1912, 1982, reporting, great-grandmother/granddaughter relationship, lost love and lost chances

Year it was published: 2014


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


I'll do my best to describe the characters: In 1912, Maggie is an excited Irish girl that is very devoted to her sweetheart Seamus and she is also in awe of everything in Titanic. In 1982, Maggie is a great-grandmother who is haunted by the episode of Titanic and its not something she shares with everyone. She has a lot of scars that refuse to heal. There are her friends and so forth, but I feel they aren't very fleshed out as one hopes. Grace is Maggie's great-granddaughter and she is struggling with some changes in her life. Maggie decides to tell her the story, thus it helps Grace with priorities. I couldn't really connect to either character, and felt that they were simply reporters rather than people.


Time heals wounds


Its written in third person narrative from Maggie's, Grace's, and Harry's point of view, although at times the story does veer off to people in New York, in particular Katie's sister who's getting ready for her sister's arrival, and few times it is from Maggie's aunt's point of view. I admit that I liked Maggie's story and found it an interesting read. For some odd reason the point of view switch did bother me a little. I really feel that scenes between Maggie and Grace should have been fleshed out more in order for me to enjoy it. I also couldn't connect to the characters. I guess it seems that the pacing is awkward, or that there seems to be too much going on and the novel should have been slightly longer.

Author Information:
(From TLC)

Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the U.K. and was the recipient of the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers in 2012. Originally from North Yorkshire, England, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children, and an accident-prone cat.
Connect with Hazel on Facebook.

A while ago, I read Titanic series by Diane Hoh, which, even if written for young adults, are excellent and incredibly detailed. What I liked as well is that the point of view is from third class people, the Irish, and that it focused on what it was like being a steward on the liner. I had hoped that this book would be the same way, and while it is informative and full of details as well as going further into details that Diane Hoh's first book has neglected, I feel that the story tended to lack, and was disappointed that the sinking of Titanic seemed to be brief. (Not asking for it to be stretching out for thousands of pages, but I thought there would be more tension and heartbreak just like in Diane Hoh's book.) I also thought that the 1982 section was short and seemed to add little to the story. (Perhaps the author didn't want to copy Titanic the movie by having Maggie tell her story to a great-granddaughter?) And although it wasn't intentional, how Grace used Maggie's story wasn't very well demonstrated as I had hoped. Also as well certain plots weren't resolved, in particular involving Vivienne Walker-Brown, although I liked the compare and contrast between Vivienne's mother and Katie's sister. Oh, I also love the book cover.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Hazel’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 1st: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Tuesday, April 1st: Historical Tapestry (guest post)
Wednesday, April 2nd: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, April 3rd: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, April 7th: Ladybug Literature
Tuesday, April 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, April 9th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Thursday, April 10th: Book-alicious Mama
Monday, April 14th: The Avid Reader
Tuesday, April 15th: Bibliophilia, Please
Wednesday, April 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, April 17th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Monday, April 21st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, April 22nd: Books in the Burbs
Wednesday, April 23rd: Ageless Pages Reviews
Thursday, April 24th: Little Lovely Books 
Monday, April 28th: My Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 29th: Mel’s Shelves
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. I've always been fascinated by the story of the Titanic so I know I'd enjoy learning more of the details from this book.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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