Happy St. Patrick's Day to all! I am of Irish descent, (really I'm just a mutt, but I do know I have Irish blood) so I was thrilled to read Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly.
Here's a description of the book:
Here at last is one Irish family's epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch--and their crops--to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop--their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century", fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious. This heroic story sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's 44 million Irish Americans.
Thoughts: In the interest of full confession, I have not yet finished the book. It's taking a little longer to read than I expected, because it's not the kind of book you read quickly. It's a sweeping story...one that tells many aspects of a life, and since each story unraveled is enjoyable and/or interesting, I decided to take my time with the book rather than rush through it.
Unless something drastically changes, though, this is a book I feel I can recommend. It's interesting because woven throughout the daily lives of the characters are old tales of Irish lore. The characters are mainly sympathetic and their struggles very real. I keep wanting to read and was even reluctant to put the book down to write this post!
And of course it's a sweeping saga spanning continents and time and lives which makes it all the more appealing!
If this book sounds interesting to you, you might be interested in a blogtalkradio show with the author which is happening today at 11 am Eastern. Sadly, I work at this time, but I've heard these shows are really interesting and fun. You can learn more here.
Also, you might be interested in this interesting article about the origin of the book here.