"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic by Hazel Gaynor (book review)

The Girl Who Came Home
A Novel of the Titanic
Author:  Hazel Gaynor
Published:  April 1 2014
Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages:  384
Source:  a complimentary copy was provided by the publisher and TLC book tours in exchange for an honest review.

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 .
 . .
Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again.

Chicago, 1982 . . 
Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her great-grandmother Maggie shares the painful secret about Titanicthat she’s harbored for almost a lifetime, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads both her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago
Inspired by true events, The Girl Who Came Home poignantly blends fact and fiction to explore the Titanic tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

My thoughts:

As a Titanic buff, I was excited to read The Girl Who Came Home, mainly because this isn't so much a work of fictional characters as it is a work of fiction based upon real characters; a group of fourteen Irish immigrants, known as the Addergoole Fourteen, who boarded the Titanic to join family in America.  Only three of this group survived.  This is the fictional version of the story of one woman who lived.

The Titanic was a luxury liner, built to be unsinkable and with the finest in luxury decor.  There was much excitement and trepidation in boarding the Titanic.  Perhaps the near collision leaving port should have been a warning, but off they went and all was well as the rich enjoyed every luxury to which they were accustomed.  This trip was merely a notch on their belt, a story to share to show how important they were.  Steerage was another matter altogether, being below deck - a most precarious place to be when the Titanic struck the iceberg.  

As the plot leads up to the sinking and the events of that night, which is a good portion of the novel, the scenes become intense and dramatic.  I found this well sculpted, thorough, and interesting. Perhaps I am a bit sadistic in this but then the thousands of others who are enthralled with the story of the Titanic might be considered to be also.  I've done a lot of reading and research on the Titanic over the years. It is still curious to note so many incidents that alone would not have sunk the ship, culminated  together and made it impossible to stay afloat.  But the Titanic had seemed indestructible in design and theory.  A flaw indeed.  A sad reminder that man is fugacious and not omnipotent.

The Girl Who Came Home goes beyond this tragic event to explore how this tragedy affected the families and loved ones of those involved.  I haven't seen this done before and found it made the novel a moving tale that allows the reader to further feel empathy for those who survived as passengers and those who grieved as this writing makes it a more personal account.  The Girl Who Came Home is a remarkable fictional version of one of the most haunting tales in history. It's gratifying to encounter a new voice on the subject who puts a face upon the tragedy and the generations that followed.

Meet the Author: 

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.


  1. I've always been fascinated by the Titantic. I can only imagine what an impact it must have had on the lives of those who survived!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

    1. Believe it or not, my fascination for the Titanic began with a report in junior high school. It's remained so to this very day.

      Thank you Heather.


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