[Review] The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of The Titanic by Hazel Gaynor


















Title: The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of The Titanic
Author: Hazel Gaynor
Publisher: William Morrow Paperback April 1, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction, 1912, Ireland, Titanic
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Free copy from William Morrow in exchange for a review.

Hurry! The Kindle edition is $1.99: The Girl Who Came Home.

Author's site: Hazel Gaynor. Author's blog: Carry on Writing. 
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.
Summary:
On April 10, 1912, in Ballysheen, County Mayo, Ireland, Maggie Murphy and a group of thirteen other Irish travelers, begin their journey of emigration to America, by way of the RMS Titanic. Maggie's mother recently died, and her aunt Kathleen has made arrangements for Maggie to live with her. Maggie's beau, Seamus, is unable to travel to America. Maggie leaves behind the life she has known and loved, as well as her beloved Seamus, to embark on an adventure to a modern city in the heartland of America. The Titanic hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, and sank in the early hours of April 15. Maggie is a survivor. In 1982, Maggie's granddaughter Grace, is in college and has a promising future in journalism. Grace's life is derailed by an event, but in the process of their grief Maggie shares her story.

Hazel Gaynor's story is based in part on a group of people from Addergoole, County Mayo, Ireland, who were emigrants on the Titanic.

My Thoughts:
I loved this story! I read it in TWO days.
When the movie Titanic was released in 1997, I no longer felt the Titanic was a far-away tragic event in a non-fiction book or documentary. Even though some of the characters in the film were fictional, the movie gave life and breath and a tangible quality to the Titanic. Breathing life into a historical event through the media of fiction, grips the viewer with emotion, and it becomes memorable for all time.
I feel the same about The Girl Who Came Home. The reactions of the characters when they first have sight of the ship is vivid and stirring. The Titanic shocked people because of its enormous size. But, people also felt as if they were witnessing a dream that was being fulfilled. The Titanic was a visual display of what man was able to achieve in the early 20th century. Pride at the enormous size, modern design, inventions, luxuriousness, all led many to believe that it was unsinkable.
Hazel Gaynor, continues this aspect throughout the book when her heroine Maggie, gives her perspective on people who were unwilling to make room for more passengers in the life boat, or would rather have their dog survive than a child.
The story brings out several qualities a survivor feels: post traumatic shock, unwillingness to talk, guilt, and grief.
The story also gives a view point from those who lost loved ones on the Titanic.
The theme of the story is on Maggie and Grace, and how their stories blend to become a catharsis for both.

Iceberg thought to have been the one the Titanic hit. Photo taken April 15, 1912. 
Engraving by Willy Stower, color added later. 

Comments