Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly (with author guest post and giveaway)

I'm always drawn to multi-generational family sagas, so I knew I had to be part of the Early Birds Blog Tour hosted by Hachette and Grand Central Publishing for Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly. At more than 500 pages, I was a bit nervous when I received the book in the mail, but by the time I finished, I wished it were longer so I could spend more time with Kelly's captivating characters.

Galway Bay is a fictional account of Kelly's great-great-grandmother, Honora Keeley Kelly, the daughter of a fisherman and the granddaughter of a woman who believed in the importance of folklore, storytelling, and passing stories down through the generations. Just as Honora is about to enter the convent, Michael Kelly, the son of a blacksmith, swims toward her in Galway Bay, and they fall in love at first sight. Thanks to the sacrifice of her older sister, Maire, the couple enjoy wedded bliss on a hill overlooking Galway Bay, but their happy family soon encounters great hardship. Mary Pat Kelly does a wonderful job telling the story of the potato famine of the late 1840s and the struggle between the English and the Irish and the landlords who take everything the Irish have and hope The Great Starvation will get rid of them once and for all.

Kelly's characters are well-rounded and captivating, from Honora and her strong sister Maire to Honora's mysterious brother-in-law, Patrick Kelly, a man on the run as he fights for Ireland's independence. I was on the edge of my seat reading about Honora and Maire's journey to America with their many children and the hardships they endured as immigrants living in Chicago, and as I'm part Irish, it made me curious about how my ancestors ended up in the States. As a mother, I understood how Honora and Maire were pained by their sons' decision to fight in the Civil War after all they had done to keep them alive during the potato famine. Kelly's writing is beautiful, and her descriptions are so vivid I felt like I was with Honora through it all. Along with Honora's young children, we witness the horrors of starvation and the cruelties inflicted upon the Irish people, both in Ireland and America. I cried several times while reading the book, and after I turned the last page and dried my eyes, I placed Galway Bay on the special shelf reserved for my most favorite books.

Read an excerpt from Galway Bay here.

Listen to Mary Pat Kelly talk about Galway Bay on Blog Talk Radio today, March 17, at 11 am EST. Click here.


I'm thrilled to welcome Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay, to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about why she wrote the book.

What Inspired Me to Write Galway Bay
By Mary Pat Kelly

When I began I didn’t even know my great-great-grandmother’s name. After decades of cranking through microfilm, turning the pages of church registers and haunting libraries in the U.S. and Ireland, they emerged from the past: Honora, the fisherman’s daughter; Michael Kelly, who fed his family with potatoes coaxed from stony ground; and their children – four boys and a girl. Finally I stood on the piece of earth where they lived and thanked them for my very existence. They had survived unimaginable suffering, and here I was.

Later, I walked the shore of Galway Bay with Geraldine Folan, who had written The Lost Fishing Hamlet as a chapter in a book telling the history of the area. We looked at the stretch of grass, rock and sand where my great-great-grandmother was born. “It’s still empty. Nothing has been built on it for more than a hundred and fifty years.” Why? It seemed the landlord had sold the land to a company intent on developing it into a seaside resort. This, during the Great Starvation. The story had it that the new owners evicted the fishermen and burnt down the thirty cottages on one night. The people were driven out, but this haunted ground resisted the efforts of the new owners and it remained empty as a kind of monument to the exiled ones. It was as if the ghosts of those who left kept watch over it.

“I always wondered what happened to the people that were here,” Geraldine said. The shared realization dawned on us both.

“I’m what happened to them,” I said. “Honora took her family to Chicago, to Bridgeport. Her grandson, Ed Kelly, became the mayor. There’s hundreds of us Kellys, all doing well enough for ourselves.”

Geraldine and I laughed. The fisher folk had won after all.

This is America’s story. We’re all descended from those who refused to be defeated by war, famine, genocide, the middle passage, death itself. Hope won. Our lives are their victory. Remembering our ancestors can sustain us in the toughest of times. This is the message of Galway Bay.


Now for the giveaway! Hachette is generously offering one copy of Galway Bay to a lucky reader.

Because shipping is being handled by the publisher, this giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canada addresses, no P.O. Boxes.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post about why you'd like to read Galway Bay.

2. For a second entry, blog about the giveaway or post it in your blog sidebar and leave me a link here.

3. For a third entry, tell me the title of your favorite family saga. I'm always looking for more of these books to read.

You don't need to leave separate comments, but you must leave your email address or blog URL.

The giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 24, at 11:59 pm EST.


Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in the Early Birds Blog Tour for Galway Bay:

2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
At Home With Books
A Reader's Respite
My Friend Amy
Bermudaonion's Weblog
A Circle of Books
The Book Nest
Lori's Book Den
Books Ahoy!
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Library Queue
Allison's Attic of Books
Cheryl's Book Nook
A Bookworm's World
Booking Mama
Enroute to Life
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
Marjolein Reviews
Peeking Between the Pages
Cafe of Dreams
Jenn's Bookshelf
The Book Czar
Write for a Reader
Linus's Blanket
Books by TJBaff
A High and Hidden Place
Medieval Bookworm
Library Girl Reads
Savvy Verse & Wit
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Write by Faith
Radiant Light
Booksie's Blog
Book Bargains and Previews
Wendi's Book Corner
This Book for Free
A Book Blogger's Diary

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Galway Bay from Hachette for review purposes.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to read Galway Bay because I love family sagas, especially immigrant ones - in the U.S. so many of us have these kinds of stories to tell!

Please enter me, thanks!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Serena said...

No need to enter me since I am part of the tour, but I loved your review...what a great guest post. I'll post your giveaway in my sidebar as usual.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Please enter me in the contest Anna! I love geneaology. I have my family traced to the 1600's, to Alexander Davisson, who came to America as an indentured servant from Scotland! I am attempting to trace back my husband's ancestry, but is insanely hard because he grew up in Communist Poland. My favorite family saga, by far, is the multi-book series by Wilbur Smith about the Courtney family in South Africa. There are many books involved, so it is a commitment (one I made for about six straight months!).

Darlene said...

Don't enter me Anna. I just wanted to say how much I loved your review and this book!

Tara said...

This book sounds great to me - I love a good family saga which is why I want to read it.

For extra credit, I love The Shell Seekers and Penny Vincenzi's trilogy starting with No Angel- a little trashy and so much fun.

bethany (dreadlock girl) said...

I would like to read this because all of the reviews have been so good about this book that I HAVE to get my hands on it!! Thanks for hosting!

I love anything Irish, as it is in my family as well.

Jo-Jo said...

I would love to read this book as I also love epic family sagas.


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Don't enter me, I'm on the tour too. Captivating is such a great word to describe this book. It was wonderful.

Toni said...

Terrific Post! I have to say.. the love at first sight was done really well... not cheesy. I really enjoyed the book.. and I am enjoying the blog tour. No need to enter me.

Nise' said...

Sound like my kind of book, historical, long and about family.

Unknown said...

I love folklore and storytelling.


Linda said...

This book sounds very interesting. I love family-type sagas, and have always been partial to Irish heritage. Recently I started reading the Morland Dynasty series, a continuing family/generational saga. Really enjoyed the first book -The Founding- and highly recommend it. Thanks for this giveaway.

S. Krishna said...

What a great review and post! I want to read this book because I've heard so many amazing things about it.

KR said...

I'd heard so many great things about this book I truly want to read it.

KR said...

I love Nora Roberts sagas for my fun summer at the beach reads!

Kristi said...

I am in a themed reading challenge for which I picked Ireland (book must be about ireland, set in ireland or be by an irish author) so this book would fit right in! Please enter me in the drawing.

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Luanne said...

No need to enter me Anna. I absolutely adored this book too. I cried numerous times and my husband kept saying - you're crying over a book? But the characters had come to life for me and I was just totally caught up in their joy and struggles.

mindy said...

i would love to read this because it sounds captivating and almost like it will transfix me into the story thanks for the giveaway

Katrina said...

I would love to read this because as a librarian in training I am always trying to read new things. I especially love historical books.

lilbabypug said...

I would like to read this. thanks for the giveaway

Corinne said...

Nice job, friend. Sure liked this one :)

clenna said...

I love the to read anything about Ireland.

clenna said...

I enjoyed the fictional Three Sisters Island Trilogy by Nora Roberts, located off the coast of Massachusetts.

Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway. I love books with Irish flavor.

Deborah said...

I'd like to read "Galway Bay" because I'm ready to be swept away on an epic Irish adventure. asthenight at gmail dot com

Book Lover Lisa said...

Great review. I cried many times while reading this book, and definitely agree that it deserves a place on the special shelf.

Victoria said...

I'd love to read this because I love stories about several generations of one family and I'm Irish (Kelly is a last name in my family too). Thanks! utgal2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

Anonymous said...

WOW this one is popping up everywhere! I've already entered at Serena's... does that disqualify me?

I love historical fiction... or even historical novels that have a creative license (since I know Mary Pat Kelly researched her family history). And this book is everywhere today and is getting great reviews.

Jackie P. said...

I love reading anything about Ireland.My daughter has a large cast iron frypan that was brought to this country by her great-great-great grandmother from Dublin.

Over the years I have read most of the "family"sagas from Nora Roberts. The MacGregor's and The Stanislaski's are 2 of the families that she wrote quite a few books about.

Bridget said...

I've posted this at Win A Book. Don't enter me though.

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks! I'd really like to read this one because I love books dealing with Irish history, and this one sounds particularly good.

I also blogged this at: http://olympianlady.livejournal.com/6087.html

My favorite family saga right now is "Angela's Ashes", which I'm sure you've likely already read, but you asked for my favorite.

There, all three entries in one post. Thanks again!


Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

I'd love to win a copy of this book! Great review!


A Reader said...

I'm Irish so I would enjoy reading this.
Thanks for the giveaway!


Becca said...

I'd love to read this. It sounds like a gripping story about a part of history I don't know much about. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I would love to win. I find the Irish and their history fascinating. I will post this in my sidebar later today.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

BurtonReview said...

Allrighty, count me in for three entries. I REALLY WANT THIS!!

First off I've blogged this at http://burtonreview.blogspot.com

Also I'd like to read Galway Bay due to the family saga feature, I would love getting lost in this. I have also traced my ancestors to Ireland to my 8th Great Grandpa!

My favorite family sagas are Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott; and Sharon Kay Penman’s trilogy of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their family.


Cassie said...

Who doesn't love a good, historical saga?

Well, okay, some folks might not, but I do!

Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Carol M said...

I want to read this because I've heard that it is very good!
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is a good one to read.
Carol M
mittens0831 AT aol.com

Cricket said...

I would like to read this because it just seems very interesting to read! It's something that I think would hold my attention!

A family saga that I think is worth reading is, "Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt!

JodiMof3 at hotmail dot com

Laura said...

I have been seeing this book around the blogosphere a little bit lately and it sounds like a really good book! I am interested in the potato famine, and I also really enjoy good characterization in novels. As a 3rd generation American, I am very interested in stories of families who immigrated to the US. I would love to be entered in your giveaway! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this book because I love historical fiction. And because I don't know a lot about Irish history besides the most common stuff taught.

Blogged your contest:

My favorite family saga would have to be Sag Harbor by Whitehead.


nfmgirl said...

I'd love to read this book. I've been hearing so many great things about this book. Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Teddy Rose said...

No need to enter me. It was a wonde3rful tour and you really added to it Anna, with you wonderful review and guest post from Mary Pat Kelly. I agree, the book was wonderful.

Jo-Jo said...

I'm back to let you know that your contest has been added to my sidebar.

Jo-Jo said...

I thought about this for awhile and I think my favorite family saga is The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.

Sandra K321 said...

I enjoy historical fiction and while this may not quite officially fall into that category, it's close enough for me.

Marie said...

I'd love to read this book. I find Ireland (and all things Irish) fascinating. Besides, I heard it was really good. Please enter me. Thanks.

Jo-Jo said...

I also blogged about your contest here.

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm desperate to read this book because first of all, I've heard nothing but good things about it; I love historical fiction; and I need a good book to get lost in!
Thanks for the chance!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I think THE FORSYTHE SAGA is one of the all-time greats!
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Bonnie said...

I'd love to read Galway Bay as I enjoy family sagas, stories about different cultures and immigrant stories.

One of my favorite family sagas is
The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly.

Anonymous said...

Please throw my name in the hat for this giveaway!

Thank you!

Marie said...

I am really hoping to read this one soon since I come from a very Irish family, and I love historical books.

One of my favorite family sagas is The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy


Anita Yancey said...

I would like to read this book, because I've seen such good reviews on it. Sounds like a book for me. Please enter me. Thanks!


doreen lamoureux said...

I have been hearing a lot about this book. I would love to read this because I love new reads.


Annmarie Weeks said...

This book seems like it would be such a great read! My own family (on my mother's side) is Irish so that family-connection gets me hooked initially. But I love a good family saga...you get so engrossed in the characters and their development through the years!

Annmarie Weeks said...

My favorite family saga was probably John Jakes' Kent Family Chronicles, which kept me entertained for months!

CherylS22 said...

I'd like to read "Galway Bay" because I like reading about Irish heritage & culture.

Please count me in - Thanks!

CherylS22 said...

My favorite family saga is "The Given Day" by Dennis Lehane which tells the story of a family of Irish policemen in Boston in the early 1900s.


Unknown said...

I love family sagas!

KristenH said...

I would absolutely love to read a book like this. It sounds so interesting and I know I could relate to it especially since I am Irish. This is a great giveaway. Thanks.

Anna said...

This contest is now closed. I'll be posting the winner later today.

Thanks to everyone who entered, and if you helped spread the word about the giveaway, I really appreciate it.

And a very big thanks to those of you who named their favorite family sagas. I'm always looking for new ones to read, and now I have a really, really long list!

Corinne said...

I just wanted to tell you that you did a great job on this review. I LOVED the book (although it scared me when I got it in the mail, too!)

Anna said...

Corinne: Thanks! Once I started reading it, I was glad it was so long because I didn't want to leave the characters.