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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Galway Bay

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 0446579009
Pages: 576 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/Irish
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Synopsis from Publisher

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.
My Review:

I have little background knowledge about Irish history. I know a little about the potato famine but my knowledge doesn’t extend beyond that. I did study Italian immigration for my Bachelor’s but that really does not lend itself to understanding Irish history, now does it? I was a bit worried when I picked up this book that I would become lost because of my lack of knowledge. I, however, found that it was not the case at all. The moment I began reading, I became immersed in the story.

I cannot tell you how much Galway Bay entranced me from the very beginning. I absolutely loved every single aspect of this book. I felt every joy and sorrow the Kelly family went through as if it was happening to me. I felt each tragedy and hunger pang. I often had to put the book down because it became so emotionally draining. I think that is a credit to Mary Pat Kelly. Her writing style is so crisp and descriptive. You really feel the events of this book very deeply. There was an event midway through the book that hit me like a thunderbolt. I had no idea it was coming. I am not a very emotional person in most situation but I found myself tearing up while reading this book.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested, even on the smallest level, in Irish history. Please don’t be daunted by the size of the novel. It really is a quick read.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


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  2. This sounds like a very interesting read. Might have to add it to my to be read pile.

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