The tragedy of the Titanic continues to fascinate us. This
well-written story shows the point of view of some of the
ordinary travellers aboard her - Maggie Murphy, leaving
Ireland with her family, is one. THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME
starts with her last moments in the only home she has
known, a rural Irish cottage, as fourteen people from her
small parish in County Mayo pack up and head off for a
better life in America. Maggie is leaving behind a young
man, Seamus Doyle, and she promises to write.
Harry Walsh is a crewman, a steward with White Star Lines,
proud to be working on the maiden voyage of such a fine
vessel. He's only assigned to the third class passengers,
but he's determined to give them equally as good a service
as the millionaires aboard. The scale of the ship in dock
is quite staggering to all viewing her in Southampton.
Some of the wealthy people even bring their small dogs
Fast forward to Grace Butler, darting admiring looks at a
fellow student's Converse sneakers during journalism class.
Grace has a Chicago-Irish background and the Chicago
Tribune invites her to send them a feature article. All she
needs is a topic... for personal reasons it is two years
before she goes ahead and writes this, using as inspiration
her great-grandmother Maggie's story of surviving the
Titanic shipwreck. Maggie had shock and survivor's guilt,
and did not speak of her experience until this time.
Details are lovely with mentions of the Foxford Woollen
Mills in Ireland and apple blossoms falling like confetti on
the heads of giggling girls. I was struck by the simplicity
of the few possessions carried by the steerage travellers.
An unmarried Irish lady has set herself up well in America
and travels back to visit relatives regularly, filling
their heads with descriptions of a splendid life.
Telegrams, or Marconigrams as they were called, from the
actual period dot the book, bringing home the aching
reality. While we know the fate of the ship, there are many
secondary characters whose lives hang in the balance,
creating tension. Grace learns that we should never take
life for granted; seeing how her great-grandmother picked
herself up inspires her to get on with being the best she
can be and stop denying her talents.
Hazel Gaynor based her book on the true story of the
Addergoole Parish and researched thoroughly while writing
THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. She is an English writer who now
lives in Ireland. Her retelling of this fateful few days,
coupled with the modern account, brings to life the heart
and soul of the people caught up in this disaster. Reading
it helps us to a better understanding of the period, the
loss and the survivors.
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