Monthly Archives: December 2013

Transatlantic by Colum McCann

This week’s wicked cool history item is Colum McCann’s wonderful historical novel, Transatlantic.

This National Book Award winning novel weaves history and fiction together in a beautifully told multi-generational tale. The author takes four historical figures–Frederick Douglass, transatlantic aviators Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown, and U. S. Senator George Mitchell—who travel to Ireland, where their paths intersect with four generations of independent women. In the 1840s, domestic servant Lily Duggan is inspired by Frederick Douglass to set out on her own, and leaves famine-stricken Ireland for the United States. Lily’s daughter Emily struggles to prove herself as a journalist, and ends up reporting on Alcock and Brown’s historic non-stop transatlantic flight in 1919. Many years later, Emily and Lottie meet Brown in Ireland, where Lottie eventually settles. Lottie and her daughter Hannah face tragedy during Northern Ireland’s troubled history, and show up to support George Mitchell’s efforts to bring peace to the conflict-torn nation.

Deftly told, with beautiful, poetic writing, the novel gracefully interweaves the lives of its characters. Along the way, readers learn about Irish history, the 1990s peace process, medical care during the Civil War, and even ice-cutting in the 19th century.

For more information, go to Colum McCann’s website

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