Monday, May 19, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home - Book Review

The sinking of the great Titanic is steeped in romanticism and tragedy. We're all familiar with the drama and calamity as thousands of people lost their lives in the frozen sea. The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor, tells the story of the group from Ballysheen, Ireland traveling together on the Titanic to begin their new lives in America. Staying in steerage, the group is excited and anxious to cross the wide Atlantic and are mesmerized by the grandeur they witness from the first class passengers and accommodations.

Maggie Murphy is seventeen years old and traveling with the Ballysheen group organized by her aunt. She has left behind a boyfriend she can't easily forget. Her lovely best friend Peggy bedazzles one of the porters who shows the girls about the ship and is a crucial help as the tragedy enfolds.

Seventy years later, Grace Butler is floundering in her young life--struggling to make decisions and plans for her future. Her great-grandmother shares the story of her experiences on Titanic and helps inspire Grace to make important changes in her own life.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor is at its best when describing the drama regarding the fateful night that Titanic sank. From the perspective of those in third class struggling for a place on the few life boats, Gaynor creates the tangible feeling of panic and desperation. Ambitiously, Gaynor shows the reader glimpses of so many real people who lost their lives that fateful night. I appreciated her research and the weaving of fact with fiction.

"To me, Titanic was about real people, real lives, real hopes for the future. That was what I saw disappearing into the ocean."

With chapters dedicated to too many characters, The Girl Who Came Home was unable to focus adequately on anyone. Also, interspersing journal entries and letters with the narrative proved distracting. I didn't make a deep connection with any of them and while I was curious about what happened to the survivors after Titanic sank, I didn't have any depth of feeling for Grace or her personal struggles.

The Girl Who Came Home is a thoughtful retelling of the aftermath and effects of the Titanic tragedy on the survivors and those who lost loved ones. Gaynor reveals the stories of many of the third class passengers whose dreams of a better life in America ended that night in the cold sea. I also appreciated that the novel is free from vulgar language and sex scenes.

The Girl Who Came Home : A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor was published by William Morrow in April 2014. The novel is also $1.99 for the Kindle during the month of May.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Girl Who Came Home in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. No additional compensation was received.**

1 comment:

Anita LeBeau said...

Jenn S sent me her arc of this one when she finished, I can't wait to find time to read this one...and that will be....??? I do love books!