“I need you to find out what happened to my mother. The woman who sent me across the sea to Ireland. And never came to find me.”
Mairead’s world is falling apart. Recently separated, she has returned to her beautiful childhood home in Ireland to nurse her dying mother. But as Brigid sits pale and papery thin, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, she has one last request for her only daughter . . .
Brigid hands Mairead a stunning turquoise necklace and a small black-and-white photograph of her mother, Ellen, a woman she never met. She begs Mairead to go to New York, the last place Ellen was seen alive, and find out what became of her. Mairead cannot ignore her mother’s dying wish.
But when Mairead arrives in America, she is shocked by the secrets she uncovers. In an old church in Arizona she discovers her grandmother was a wanted woman in Ireland, accused of murder. What lies in her family’s past? And what does the turquoise necklace mean?
As she digs deeper, the trail leads Mairead to a small mossy graveyard in Ireland where she might finally learn the truth. But if she does, will she re-open old wounds, and put her own future into terrible danger?
Ellen Lavelle realizes she can’t risk returning to Ireland with her husband and young daughter as she harbors a dark secret she hasn’t shared. She leaves them to sail from New York without her and flees, hoping to find a new life.
In the telling of the multi-plotted generational timeline, we are gradually fed the tragic story of Ellen Lavelle, her daughter Brigid, and her daughter Mairead. It is not until the 1980s when Mairead has a tragic turn in her marriage and is made aware of her mother’s terminal condition that she really gets to know the mother who was so cold in her affection for Mairead. Brigid begs her to find Ellen and discover the reason behind her abandonment.
As the reader is taken through the different timelines, the plot digs ever deeper into the characters’ lives, struggles, and talents. We gradually begin to understand how the events that began with Ellen shaped the lives of her daughter Brigid and her granddaughter Mairead.
I had a little difficulty accepting Ellen’s deadly response to the two men who were initially an unexpected rescue. It seemed a bit extreme, although I could certainly understand the anger. And Mairead, rebounding from her failed marriage reacted on the extreme side as well—what I thought was totally out of character.
Mired in the subplot is the family home and the call back to Ireland—there to discover once and for all just who Ellen was and the circumstances that created the misfortune that shaped three generations.
Still, it is well-plotted, well-paced with flipping between the different timelines and characters. The characters were so well developed that when they stepped unexpectedly into the extreme it was disturbing. Descriptions of locations whether Ireland or the US (especially Arizona) bordered on prose, poems, and quotes often lent weight to the often nostalgic atmosphere.
It is an engaging and entertaining narrative, if not emotional and disconcerting at times; the resolution of the castle a bit fanciful, but there is a drive to resolve all the loose ends which are covered admirably in conclusion. It keeps the reader reading (or listening, the narrator also performing admirably).
The CE read The Last Summer in Ireland in October 2022, and greatly enjoyed it. I downloaded a copy of this audiobook from my local well-stocked library and enjoyed it as well. These are my honest thoughts.
Genre: Fiction Sagas, Women’s Fiction, Family Saga Fiction
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Listening Length: 11 hrs 7 mins
Narrator: Esther Wane
Publication Date: May 17, 2022
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Girl Across the Sea [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Rosepoint Publishing: Four Stars
I’m an Irish author who’s been writing novels and plays for nearly thirty years. My first novel, Beatrice was published in August 2004 which was a bestseller in Ireland. This was followed by A Small Part Of me in 2005, I Remember in 2008, The Adulteress in 2010, The Secret Loves of Julia in 2012, The Gravity of Love in 2018, and The Island Girls in 2020.
My books have been published in over 12 different countries.
I am also published under the pen name Evie Blake and my Valentina Trilogy hit the Der Spiegel Bestseller List in 2013.
In 2014 I was one of 56 Irish Writers included in the anthology and exhibition Lines of Vision Irish Writers on Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, and published by Thames & Hudson.
I have also written five plays – Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife, The Good Sister, and Witches’ Gets, which featured in Cymera and Audacious Women Festivals in Edinburgh to sell out houses.
I currently live in Edinburgh in Scotland, and I am one of the founders of Aurora Writers’ Retreats, and part of the wellness hub The Space To BE.
If you like stories written from the heart, historical with contemporary timeslip, family mysteries and secrets, and always, always a love story set against evocative landscapes, you might like to pick up one of my books. My aim is to tell women’s stories from the past and present and to give voice to those who are rarely heard. Want to know more about me and my writing, go to http://www.noelleharrison.com
©2022 V Williams