The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Title The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.)

by Hazel Gaynor

PBR Book Review:

(by- Andrea) I listened to THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.) on audio. It's an excellent read and the winner of 2015 Romantic Novelists' Association award. I don't usually read or listen to romance novels, so this was a bit out of my comfort zone. But, it gave me a deeper understanding of what happened on that terrible day when the Titanic sank.

Gaynor brings a new perspective to the story of the Titanic. She based the book on the small rural community of Addergoole, Ireland. They sent 14 people to America onboard the ship, and only three survived the journey. She provides a fascinating love story and brings to life the experience of that voyage.

What was most appealing was her lack of sensationalism of the event. Her descriptions of the crew lowering the lifeboats into the water were mesmerizing. The fear and apprehension were palpable as people searched for their loved ones. From start to finish this book kept my interest. It offers the perfect balance of both Historical Fiction and Romance. It would make a great Book Club selection.

Book Club Talking Points:

Talking Points: There is a lot of information on the sinking of the Titanic. But, this story brings a unique and personal side to the conversation. What the characters experience onboard the ship is palpable and discussion worthy. The aftermath of surviving such a tragedy is even more so.

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Discussion Questions

1. We all know the fate of Titanic. What impact does this knowledge have on you as you read the book? How do you feel about the Ballysheen group as they leave their homes and as they board Titanic at Queenstown?

2. Kathleen Dolan is single-minded in her decision to take her niece back to America with her. Discuss Kathleen's role in Maggie's life and also her role in influencing the others in the Ballysheen group to travel to America.

3. Grace makes a brave decision to drop out of her college course to stay at home with her mom. Does Grace have a choice in this? How does her decision and the sacrifices she makes for her family contrast with the decisions forced upon Maggie in 1912.

4. Who are you rooting for as the drama of the events of April 14th unfold?

5. Many of the warnings and predictions of disaster which the Ballysheen group experience i.e. the reading of the tea leaves, the warning from the stranger at Queenstown, the dropped "lucky" sovereign, the "belly up" fish in the Holy Well are all based in recorded facts. The "near miss" with the moored boat in Southampton docks at the very start of Titanic's journey is also an event which really happened. Discuss the many aspects of superstition and myth which surround Titanic.

6. Maggie and the other survivors were in their lifeboat for eight hours before they were picked up by The Carpathia and they were then on board The Carpathia for several days. Had you considered the experience of the survivors before reading the book? Are you surprised at the extent of their ordeal, after getting safely off Titanic?

7. There are several key relationships in the novel. Discuss your thoughts on the relationship between any of these: Grace and Maggie; Maggie and Seamus; Maggie and her Aunt Kathleen; Catherine Kenny and her sister Katie; Maggie, Peggy and Katie; Harry and Peggy.

8. Emigration was very common in Ireland in 1912 with many families separated by the belief and hope that there was a better standard of living to be found in America. The "American wakes" were a common occurrence across the country, marking the departure of loved ones. Have you experienced emigration in your own family? How would you feel if you had to make a similar decision to that made by the Irish emigrants who set sail on Titanic?

9. There have been many other shipping tragedies since Titanic. Cunard's passenger liner, RMS Lusitania (travelling from New York to Liverpool), sank off the coast of Ireland in 1915 when the liner was struck by a torpedo fired from a German submarine. 1,198 civilians lost their lives in the event. In the light of many tragedies with great loss of life, why do you think people continue to be so fascinated by Titanic, a hundred years on?

10. Australian businessman, Clive Palmer, is currently starting construction on a replica of Titanic-Titanic II-which is scheduled to re-create Titanic's maiden voyage in 2016? There have been very mixed reactions to this among relatives and descendants of Titanic's passengers and Titanic enthusiasts. What are your thoughts on the project?

Book Summary
William Morrow Paperbacks - Historical Fiction - 362 pages
Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic-a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy's impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

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 Seamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction - and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.
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