From different counties in Ireland, Maggie Qualter and Richard Terrett both sail to America as young adults in 1870, after surviving Ireland’s Great Hunger as children. Maggie works as a maid for a wealthy family. Richard finds work in a tannery. After the death of the young wife he loves passionately, Richard marries Maggie with the help of a deceptive go-between who brews trouble in their marriage that never goes away. They raise three children in the midst of Irish American culture, the Catholic Church, and Richard’s battles for the workingman in the Knights of Labor. Daughter Mary dreams of being a nun, while Josie seeks the freedom of big-city life in Boston. Neither reckons on the future she will face. Tom escapes factory life by joining the Navy, manages to see the world in the midst of two wars, and comes home to marry his sweetheart and start a new life. Their stories are both remarkable and familiar to everyone whose ancestors made their way to and in America.
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Brenda Murphy is the great granddaughter of Irish immigrants and the author of twenty books about American literary and cultural figures. Her latest book is Becoming Carlotta, a biographical novel about the actress Carlotta Monterey. Brenda taught American literature and drama for a number of years at The University of Connecticut, where she became an avid fan of women’s basketball. Recently, she has concentrated on writing criticism, biography and fact-based historical fiction. She and her husband make their home in Connecticut.