The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel GaynorPublisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date:  April 1, 2014
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Book Description:  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.

Wanda's Thoughts: Over and over again Maggie had heard the screams and terror of a thousand voices.  The Titanic sinks with 1800 on board, and only 675, mostly women and children, survived.  Maggie felt so guilty over the years and wondered why she had survived when so many died.

April 10, 1912 – Fourteen people, their home in a small village, Ballysheen, Ireland, would be sailing on the Titanic, the queen of the ocean.  They were headed to America, leaving their families behind, in search for a better life. 

Maggie Murphy’s heart was heavy and troubled.  She really wanted to stay in Ballysheen, where she was leaving Seamus behind, the love of her life.  Maggie was making the journey with her Aunt Kathleen, her guardian since her mother’s recent death. 

Kathleen Dolan organized the group of travelers for this journey.  She was a strong influence on the people in Ballysheen and felt very strongly that life in America was better.  Kathleen and Maggie enjoyed each other’s company and soon formed a bond. 

April 15, 1982 – Illinois – Grace Butler, a college student with a talent for writing, was the great-granddaughter of Maggie.  Grace needs an inspiration for a story for a feature article she is about to write.  That inspiration comes from Maggie.  And the story unfolds as the tragedy of the Titanic comes to life through Maggie’s reminiscences.  87 year-old Maggie, now a bit frail and diminutive, had not shared with anyone her experiences of the titanic, and the nightmare it brought to so many people. 

For the most part, this was a captivating read.  The writing is simple and flowing with well-developed characters, including the minor ones.  I especially liked the relationship between Maggie and Grace – they certainly had a special bond. 

A few problems – The story lost its momentum part way through, becoming a bit blah, but did pick up again.  Also, there was a large cast of characters to keep track of.  I sometimes got names confused.  But, I must say, Maggie, unique and realistic, and wonderfully portrayed, brought the story to life. 

The ending was great, with a few unexpected twists and a satisfying conclusion.  The Girl Who Came Home is an enjoyable and simplistic read. My rating is 4/5 stars. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from LibraryThing: Early Reviewers, to read and review.  All opinions shared are my own.

Titanic IIThe Author - Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer living in Ireland. 'The Girl Who Came Home - A Novel of the Titanic' is her first novel (William Morrow/HarperCollins).

When she isn't writing historical fiction, Hazel writes a guest blog for national writing website for which she has also interviewed bestselling authors such as Jo Baker, Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Mary Beth Keane.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children and an accident-prone cat. 

Hazel is represented by Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management, New York.