It seems that the author created this family saga by piecing together facts about the ancestors of a rural Irish parish who actually emigrated to America, on the iconic, disastrous maiden voyage of the Titanic. Through research of old, British, American and Irish documents and many interviews, the author creates a multi-generational tale about the gains and losses experienced by the most immigrants who eventually learned to thrive in their adopted homes, mostly through sheer faith in themselves and belief in positive possibilities for the future. This is a ubiquitous tale of how the human spirit can overcome many hardships, in order to create good from negative events in life.
The story line is logical, even though it jumps around from present, back about 80 years and eventually lands back in the present. The main character, Maggie, is an Irish country girl who miraculously survives the sinking of the Titanic. If one has seen the movie ‘Titanic’, then the reader can easily imagine the ship-at-sea segments of this book. The characters are real, if not a bit coerced to be stereotypical. One can not doubt the angst, dreams, terror, love, wonder, nightmares and yearnings of the models for this tale. Eventually the secondary characters are reunited with Maggie, in a bit of an overly-coincidental manner, before she dies a happy, fulfilled woman. The novel eventually comes out as a “feel good” tale, even though the denouement and conclusion lack imagination and originality and the language is stilted and quite repetitive wording.
What I did enjoy about the book was the descriptions of the old, Irish parish and its intertwined families, friendships and communities. The landscapes, both physical and psychological, are well-defined and give credence to the history of emigration and settling down in foreign lands. The author also builds a good, emotional characterization of what “true home” could mean for us all. If one enjoys a sentimental journey through an immigrant family’s history, then this book of for you. If one prefers very good, classic literature, this tale may be too “thin” and tediously unskilled to fully enjoy. However, this novel has its own message that can be respected and poignant to some meaningful measure, in all of us.