Book Review: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor on Mandy Boles Life Between BooksTitle: The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of The Titanic
Author: Hazel Gaynor
384 pages, Published by William Morrow Paperbacks, $14.99
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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 Titanic that 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. (Summary provided by William Morrow Paperbacks.)

My Thoughts:

I, like so many others, have always been fascinated by the facts surrounding the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic. So, when I heard about Hazel Gaynor’s novel The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of The Titanic, I knew it would be a must read for me. Gaynor expertly weaves fact and fiction in this historical fiction novel. With The Girl Who Came Home readers are introduced to a group of 14 people from the fictional town of Ballysheen, Ireland traveling in steerage class aboard the Titanic with dreams of more opportunities in America. What makes this novel even more fascinating is that the 14 residents of Ballysheen are loosely based on a group of fourteen Irish passengers from Addergoogle. So this historical novel is a true mixture of history and fiction.

The book centers around Maggie, a teen from a Ballysheen – a small village in Ireland, who finds herself about to board Titanic after her mother dies and her aunt comes from the states to take her to America with her. Maggie is upset because she doesn’t want to leave her boyfriend Seamus behind. The Girl Who Came Home goes back and forth telling Maggie’s story in 1912 and her great-granddaughter Grace’s story in 1982. However, Maggie is the prominent character in the book. Much of the book is told through journal entries Maggie kept during her voyage on the Titanic and in the aftermath of the tragedy. There are also a few other POV’s of passengers aboard the ship throughout the novel as well.

Grace’s story set in 1982 mirrors that of her great-grandmother’s. After her father dies, Grace drops out of college to take care of her mother. Grace leaves behind a boyfriend and a promising journalism career. After seeing Grace sacrifice so much of herself for her mother, Maggie decides to finally share her story of what happened aboard the Titanic with Grace. It’s the first time Maggie has talked about the tragedy with anyone except her late husband since the incident happened. Maggie and Grace’s relationship is beautiful. As the book progressed Maggie’s story revived her great-granddaughter’s zest for life and taught her to make every moment count as well as providing a much needed sense of catharsis and closure for Maggie.

Gaynor’s attention to detail, specifically regarding the class divide aboard the ship and the aftermath of the tragedy, changed the way I’ll view the event forever. I’m really glad the novel focused on the steerage class passengers rather than the famous aristocrats and wealthy passengers who populated first class not because the stories of the wealthy passengers aren’t an important piece of history, but rather because I feel that the non-privileged passengers aboard the Titanic have been overlooked historically.

I highly recommend taking time to remember the many lives who were lost on the Titanic by reading The Girl Who Came Home this April 15th, the anniversary of the Titanic.I guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t already know about this sad event and you’ll come away with a new understanding of some of the most overlooked passengers of the ship. Click here to read more about the historical background of the novel on Hazel Gaynor’s blog.

(April 15th is also my husband’s birthday. I had no idea it was also the anniversary date of the Titanic.)

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FTC Disclosure: I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon and ShopSense links on this site.I also received a free copy of The Girl Who Came Home from William Morrow.

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