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Star of the Sea
Joseph O'Connor
Adult Fiction O'CONNOR

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From Publishers' Weekly:

First published in the U.K. and shortlisted for Irish Novel of the Year, this brooding new historical fiction by novelist, playwright and critic O'Connor (Cowboys and Indians) chronicles the mayhem aboard Star of the Sea, a leaky old sailing ship crossing from Ireland to New York during the bitter winter of 1847, its steerage crammed to the bulkheads with diseased and starving refugees from the Irish potato famine. The novel takes the form of a personal account written by passenger G. Grantley Dixon, a New York Times reporter who intersperses his narrative with reportage and interviews as he describes the intrigue that unfolds during the 26-day journey. There's Pius Mulvey, "a sticklike limping man from Connemara" known to the passengers as "the monster" or "the ghost," who shuffles menacingly around the ship and is the subject of many a rumor. There's Earl David Merridith of Kingscourt, one of the few passengers in first class, who has evicted thousands of his tenants for nonpayment of rent, dooming them and their families to almost certain death by starvation. Also aboard is the young widow, Mary Duane, a nanny for the Kingscourt children who shares a history of intimacies with both Kingscourt and Mulvey. And there is, of course, Kingscourt's wife, with whom Dixon is having an ill-advised affair. One of these passengers is on a mission to commit murder, and another is the fated victim. Through flashbacks, the complicated narrative paints a vivid picture of the rigors of life in Ireland in the mid-19th century. The engrossing, well-structured tale will hold historical fiction fans rapt. 4-city author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Aboard the creaky Star of the Sea, a motley handful of first-class passengers and hundreds of evicted tenants fleeing the 1840s Irish famine endure a stormy voyage to America. The first-class passengers include a bankrupted Irish landlord, Lord David Merridith; his discontented wife, Laura; an aspiring American man of letters, G. Grantley Dixon; and a compassionate English doctor who cares for dying famine victims below deck. Completing this microcosm of Irish society are Merridith's servant, Mary Duane, a victim of sexual abuse by her employer, and a mysterious Irish balladeer in steerage named Pius Mulvey, who is gradually revealed to be a notorious murderer armed with a mandate to kill David Merridith before the ship's arrival in New York harbor. Oscillating between the life stories of the characters in Ireland and the deaths of dozens of weakened famine victims aboard the ship, O'Connor (Cowboys and Indians) brilliantly weaves together an intriguing plot, a cast of memorable characters, and some stunningly realistic dialog. Universal themes of love, loyalty, vengeance, and violence are explored in the context of a troubled class-ridden society convulsed by the catastrophic potato blight. This first-rate historical thriller will prove popular in all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Joseph M. Eagan, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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more titles about

main characters Lord David Merridith
Has many secrets.

Pius Mulvey
Walks with a limp.

Grantley Dixon
First class passenger.

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