In a rural Irish village in April 1912, seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy is anxious about the trip to America. While the thirteen others she will travel with from her Parish anticipate a life of prosperity and opportunity – including her strict Aunt Kathleen who will be her chaperon for the journey – Maggie is distraught to be leaving Séamus, the man she loves with all her heart. As the carts rumble out of the village, she clutches a packet of love letters in her coat pocket and hopes that Séamus will be able to join her in America soon.
In Southampton, England, Harry Walsh boards Titanic as a Third Class Steward, excited to be working on this magnificent ship. After the final embarkation stop in Ireland, Titanic steams across the Atlantic Ocean. Harry befriends Maggie and her friends from the Irish group; their spirits are high and life on board is much grander than any of them could have ever imagined. Being friendly with Harold Bride, one of the Marconi radio operators, Harry offers to help Maggie send a telegram home to Séamus. But on the evening of April 14th, when Titanic hits an iceberg, Maggie’s message is only partly transmitted, leaving Séamus confused by what he reads.
As the full scale of the disaster unfolds, luck and love will decide the fate of the Irish emigrants and those whose lives they have touched on board the ship. In unimaginable circumstances, Maggie survives, arriving three days later in New York on the rescue ship Carpathia. She has only the nightdress she is wearing, a small case and a borrowed coat, to her name. She doesn’t speak of Titanic again for seventy years.
In Chicago, 1982, twenty-one year old Grace Butler is stunned to learn that her Great Nana Maggie sailed on Titanic and sets out to write Maggie’s story as a way to resurrect her journalism career. When it is published, Grace receives a surprising phone call, starting a chain of events which will reveal the whereabouts of Maggie’s missing love letters and the fate of those she sailed with seventy years ago. But it isn’t until a final journey back to Ireland that the full extent of Titanic’s secrets are revealed and Maggie is able to finally make peace with her past.
Source: eARC from Harper Collins/William Morrow for review purposes
Seventeen year old Maggie Murphy is torn about emmigrating to America because she has to leave behind her love, Seamus. But she packs up her bags and with thirteen others, she boards the ill-fated Titanic on her maiden voyage.
Seventy years later, her great-granddaughter, Grace, feels obligated to leave school and her boyfriend, Jimmy, to care for her mother after her father unexpectantly passes away. Two years later, Maggie sees that Grace is struggling and uses this time to help Grace get back to her life and finally tell her own story.
This book was just lovely. It’s a look into the sinking of the Titanic from the point of view of a survivor, but it’s not at all like the movie. Maggie was a great heroine, she’s really strong and you empathize with her early in the book when she’s still thinking about leaving Seamus and everything she’s ever known. She works her way into your heart and you keep turning pages wanting to know all about what she went through. I actually got goose bumps during some parts. It was kind of melancholy, of course, but beautifully written. Maggie’s is not the only story we get to witness. We see the same story from several different points of view, including Harry, an Englishman who works on board and takes a liking to one of Maggie’s companions. Harry was a great guy and I loved his parts of the book.
I wish that the book would have been longer, though, and gone into more depth, so I do think that it is lacking in that respect, but I did love it. I could not put it down toward the end because I not only wanted to know how Maggie survived, I was very curious about Grace’s life, too. There was a neat little twist at the end that I was NOT expecting, but it was very satisfying, nonetheless. If you are at all interested in historical fiction in general or the Titanic in particular, this book adds a human touch and really brings the tragedy into perspective. We think that 1912 was not that long ago and the world could not have been that different, but this book will change your mind about that. You will be moved by Maggie’s story & probably fall a little in love with Harry, yourself.
William Morrow is giving away a Titanic Poster and three copies of the book, enter below: