From the blurb:
Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.
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 lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.
Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.
A very poignant, moving, beautifully written book that had me utterly gripped.
The author has clearly researched the historical content carefully, and she strikes just the right balance between (often terrible) fact and fiction. I especially enjoyed her depictions of the class differences on the ship, and the descriptions of the ship itself, which really brought that world to life in my imagination.
The two timelines – in 1912 and in 1982 – are interwoven perfectly, enough to keep you intrigued by each. In 1912, I warmed to all of the Irish characters, but read with such a heavy heart, knowing so many of these girls with such hopes and dreams and fire in their hearts would not make it to America. I was concerned before reading the book that I may find the sinking of the Titanic scenes too painful to read (I struggle with the movie Titanic), but while I was very moved by the writing, I did not feel overwhelmed and in danger of having nightmares.
The 1982 narrative following Maggie and her great-granddaughter Grace is just as compelling as the past one. I found myself really rooting for Grace, a young woman weighed down by responsibilities and grief. I could picture her so vividly thanks to the author’s fantastically descriptive writing; ‘It was a warm day, full of blossoms on the trees and bees buzzing among the early-blooming azalea bushes’ – just exquisite.
I love the relationship between Maggie and Grace, and how Grace is able to see her great-grandmother as a young woman. How many elderly people do we know without really knowing them at all? All of her life Maggie has been a treasured member of the family, but the truth of her past, of what happened to her on Titanic, has been buried. There’s such a sense of poignancy and liberation in the book as she finally tells her tale, and it is so transformative for both Maggie and Grace.
Most of all, it was the romance in the book that swept me away. I don’t wish to provide any spoilers here, so I will simply say that if you are a romantic you must read the book. The ending is sheer perfection.
Overall, I found this to be a very well written and engaging book, with a story that will stay with you long after you read the final words on the page. Inspirational and beautiful.
The Girl Who Came Homeis available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.