Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Girl Who Came Home - Hazel Gaynor

The Girl Who Came Home:
A Novel of the Titanic
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the story of the Titanic. It's such a tragic moment in history; although, in reality, it pales in comparison to some of the wars and genocides humans have inflicted upon one another.

Perhaps it's the poignancy of the event or the irony of the sinking of the unsinkable. Perhaps its the multitude of human stories tied up in the doomed ship. In reality, it probably has a lot more to do with the emerging telegraphy technology of the time. After all, intercontinental news was fairly new at the time. 

No matter what draws us in, there is no denying that I am not the only one bewitched by the tale. I mean, James Cameron is basically obsessed. 

All that to say, when TLC Book Tours offered me the chance to review a novel based around the Titanic, I could not resist. This type of book definitely is not among my normal genres of interest. In fact, in recent years, I have largely avoid historical fiction like this. I hate the way authors romanticize things and manipulate history. My best word for this genre is typically 'kitsch.' And I hate kitsch.

In The Girl Who Came Home, Hazel Gaynor recounts the fictional stories of those affected by the Titanic. The main character is Maggie, an Irish young woman traveling with friends and family to new life in America. We also learn about "Lucky Harry," the third class steward who ensures Maggie makes it into a lifeboat.

The secondary story line follows Maggie's great-granddaughter as she discovers her great-grandmother's story and, consequentially, launches a career as a journalist.

Hazel Gaynor
Eventually, all the pieces fit together and form into one cohesive tale which culminates in (spoiler alert) Maggie's return to Ireland with her great-granddaughter.

The book does have moments when it succumbs to the classic kitsch of its genre, but as a whole, Gaynor does a good job avoiding sappy moments and maintaining their somber tone instead.

The book is fictional, but Gaynor's research is obviously. Her characters are largely based on actual people who traveled on the ship, with a few true-to-life ones sprinkled around the edges.

If you like Titanic stories, then give The Girl Who Came Home a try. It's not the best book ever, but it represents its genre well. It does seem apt, too, that I finished it only 3 days off from the anniversary of the tragic event. 

Pages: 384
Date Completed: April 12, 2014

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on The Girl Who Came Home, check out the full tour schedule.*

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