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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review: Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly

Title: Galway Bay
Author: Mary Pat Kelly
Pages: 576
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 9, 2009)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to Hachette Book Group for sending me a copy to review

Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read

In a nutshell: I was very interested in this story as my husband's side of the family can claim ties to Ireland, and my grandmother immigrated here from Norway (yes, NOT Ireland, but in a way, I feel I can understand what she went through on her journey here a little better after reading this book). I was hoping to learn a little more about the Irish history, and what it was like to travel to America, and I was not disappointed. This is a wonderfully written story that follows the Kelly family. We get a glimpse of life prior to the the potato famine, and then we see how the Irish were treated as they were starving and trying to survive.

This is a story of strength and survival that will keep you riveted. I was amazed by what I learned, and found that I was enthralled by this family who refused to give up, and instead traveled to America to start over. Even more amazing, Honora Kelly was actually the author's great-great-grandmother, which gives the story even more of a lasting impact.

Extended Review:
Characters: The characters within the book were wonderfully written and developed. I grew very attached to the members of the Kelly family and found myself amazed at what they were able to accomplish.

Story-Line: I can only imagine the amount of time that the author put into her research. The story is amazing and highly detailed, giving the reader quite a nice glimpse into the history of both Ireland and America in the 1800's.

Readability: The book is long, but will capture your attention and hold it from the first chapter, until the end of the book.

Overall: I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Irish immigration to America following the potato famine, and to anyone with Irish ancestors. The strength of the Kelly family, and their will to survive is a wonderful testament. This would also be a wonderful book club read due to the number of things that will spark discussions, although you might want to allow a little more time than normal due to the size of the book.

From Amazon:
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.

In the author's colorful and eclectic life, she has written and directed award-winning documentaries on Irish subjects, as well as the dramatic feature Proud. She's been an associate producer on Good Morning America and Saturday Night Live, written books on Martin Scorsese, World War II, and Bosnia, and a novel based on her experiences as a former nun - Special Intentions. She is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine and has a PhD in English and Irish literature.

About the Author: (from Amazon)
Mary Pat Kelly is the author of a novel Special Intentions, and nonfiction on subjects as varied as Martin Scorcese and the rescue of Scott O'Grady from Bosnia. In her life, she has been everything from a nun to a documentary filmmaker to a producer of short films for "Saturday Night Live". She lives in New York, NY.


Staci said...

Great review Wendi!
I've seen this book all over the place and I must read it!!!

Serena said...

Wendi: I'm glad you enjoyed this novel as well. I really adored Kelly's writing.

Jenny Girl said...

Glad you liked the book. Another convincing review.

Jenny Girl said...

Glad you liked the book. Another convincing review.

bermudaonion said...

I know exactly how you felt. My grandmother immigrated from Lithuania and this book made me reflect on her strength and tenacity. I had a dream about her while I was reading this book.

Anna said...

This was a great book! I enjoy reading and learning from immigrant stories, as my mom and her family came to the states from Germany. I'm also part Irish, so it was interesting to think about what my ancestors might have experienced. (I don't know much about the Irish side of the family.)

Diary of an Eccentric

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