The Girl Who Came Home

Written by Hazel Gaynor
Review by Tamela McCann

Maggie Murphy is being taken to America to begin a new life with her aunt, and she is unsure about leaving her Irish home and her sweetheart, Seamus, behind. Still, she feels compelled to accompany her aunt and twelve others from her village on board the great ship Titanic, never suspecting it will not complete the voyage. Meanwhile, almost seventy years later, Maggie’s great-granddaughter, Grace, is suffering through the loss of her beloved father and uncertain how her life should proceed. Can Maggie’s experience somehow bring guidance to Grace and provide her with the means to go forward?

The Girl Who Came Home is ostensibly a book about the Titanic, but it also deals with the wrenching decision to leave one’s roots and travel to the unknown future. Though the main story is about Maggie and her decision, there are also other points of view that help to tell the story of the fateful night in 1912. Based on the true story of an Irish village that lost many of its own aboard the ship, this part of the story is well done, if a bit slow to get going. Flashbacks to Maggie’s poignant good-bye to Seamus would just as easily have shown emotion and carried the plot along more quickly.

This reader’s biggest problem in the overall story is with Grace, who seems to allow life to flow over her rather than working her way through it for much of the time. While I enjoyed Grace’s interactions with Maggie, I did wish she’d shown more spark along the way to solving the “mystery.” This is a satisfying read, however, and the author has taken a well-traveled theme and given it a personal spin that shows that the sinking itself was only one part of the overall story of the Titanic.