Miriam at Hachette Books has done it again! The Early Birds Tour choice this month was Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly. What a fantastic selection and St. Patrick's Day is the perfect day to tour this epic Irish novel.
*** Mary Pat Kelly will be on Blog Talk Radio today - March 17 at 11 am EST. Listen in here!***
It was with great sadness that I turned the last page of this stunning novel. I had become so caught up in the story, I didn't want it to end.
Galway Bay is many stories - a love story, a story of the history of Ireland and the Great Starvation, a story of courage, faith, devotion, family, community and the undying spirit of a land and it's people. It is the story of Mary Pat Kelly's great-great grandmother - Honora Kelly. Mary Pat Kelly spent many years researching her family tree and has fictionalized their history.
The novel opens in 1839. We meet 16 yr old Honora Keeley and her family and neighbours. Hers is a fishing family, casting their net in Galway Bay. Honora is slated to join the local convent, but a chance meeting with young Michael Kelly changes the path of her destiny. Life is difficult under the British landlord system, but they have always gotten by - until the potato harvest fails - not once, but three out of four years. In desperation, many of the starving Irish make their way to North America. Honora's story continues in 'Amerikay' as well.
Mary Pat Kelly has done a stunning job - the tale fairly jumps off the page.. I was fascinated by the Irish myths, legends and history told by both Honora and her Granny. Interspersed with Gaelic phrases and words, they reinforce the proud tradition of this tenacious people. All the characters were vividly portrayed. I found myself actually crying a number of times at the sad turns life takes for the Keeleys and the Kellys, talking out loud angrily at the injustices done and cheering for the indomitable spirit of Honora and her family. I was particularly struck by the strength and resilience of the women.
I particularly enjoyed this book, as my own 18 yr old great-great grandfather left Keady, Ireland and settled in Canada in 1845 and I think this book does a fantastic job of describing the conditions, history and travels of so many of our forebearers.
This would be a fantastic selection for a book club - there is an excellent set of questions included as well as an appendix of the Gaelic terms used. Check out the first chapter here.
If you think you'd like to own a copy of the book yourself enter my giveaway here!
There are numerous bloggers participating in today's tours - some of the other stops are listed below.
At Home With Books , Reader's Respite, My Friend Amy, Bermuda Onion's Web Log, Write for a Reader, Books by TJ Baff, Diary of an Eccentric, Savvy Verse and Wit, Pudgy Penquin Perusals, Wendi's Book Corner. Whew!