Title: The Girl Who Came Home
Author: Hazel Gaynor
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Origins: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: 1 April 2014
Bottom Line: Simple and sweet
“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.”
Thoughts: Ms. Gaynor treats the Titanic tragedy with the consideration it deserves. Thanks to the movie, many of the scenes on the ship are well-known. What is not so well-known, however, is the scenes after the Carpathia entered New York harbor. The unloading of the infamous life boats onto the White Star dock, the crowds, the emotional outpouring from both the crowd and the survivors as well as the survivors’ shock and incomprehension are new and profound. The collective grief as well as the outpouring of support – financial, spiritual, and otherwise – are akin to the aftermath of 9/11 and yet unexpected. In all of the Titanic stories, one never considers life off of the ocean, something Ms. Gaynor gracefully captures.
The Girl Who Came Home is just a sweet novel. The writing is simple, the characters are basic. Nothing about the story requires great stretches of the imagination or is unduly melodramatic. Maggie’s story unfolds quietly given everything she experiences, while Grace’s story follows a predictable and yet enjoyable trajectory. It is an entertaining way to while away a few hours but nothing profoundly life-changing.