The Girl Across the Sea by Noëlle Harrison – #AudiobookReview – #fictionsagas

The Girl Across the Sea by Noelle Harrison

Book Blurb:

“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?

My Review:

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.

The Girl Across the Sea by Noelle HarrisonAs 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.

Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Sagas, Women’s Fiction, Family Saga Fiction
Publisher: Tantor Audio
ASIN: B09YVPMN8T
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]
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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four Stars 4 stars

Noelle Harrison - authorThe Author: Welcome to my Author’s Page!

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

K, luv u, bye

Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir by Jennifer McGaha – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha

Book Blurb:

When life gets your goat, bring in the herd

Jennifer McGaha never expected to own a goat named Merle. Or to be setting Merle up on dates and naming his doeling Merlene. She didn’t expect to be buying organic yogurt for her chickens. She never thought she would be pulling camouflage carpet off her ceiling or rescuing opossums from her barn and calling it “date night.” Most importantly, Jennifer never thought she would only have $4.57 in her bank account.

When Jennifer discovered that she and her husband owed back taxes—a lot of back taxes—her world changed. Now desperate to save money, they foreclosed on their beloved suburban home and moved their family to a one-hundred-year-old cabin in a North Carolina holler. Soon enough, Jennifer’s life began to more closely resemble her Appalachian ancestors than her upper-middle-class upbringing. But what started as a last-ditch effort to settle debts became a journey that revealed both the joys and challenges of living close to the land.

Told with bold wit, unflinching honesty, and a firm foot in the traditions of Appalachia, Flat Broke with Two Goats blends stories of homesteading with the journey of two people rediscovering the true meaning of home. 

My Review:

OMG, so many reviewers disliked this memoir! And I must admit I had to agree with most of the arguments presented. I can’t even imagine not knowing you haven’t filed with the IRS in years. Robbing Peter to pay Paul until Peter drops a foreclosure on you.

From living well above your means and having your children in private schools to eating gourmet and drinking expensive craft beers. You can’t tell me there wasn’t a hint.

Well educated, this couple made every stupid financial decision you could make. And he was an accountant? Thinking he was handling the finances, she works part-time and plays homemaker, rearing the children, and caring for multiple animals.

Sounds nice—few women get to do that (or even want to) anymore. She tends to blame him for all their financial woes—but how did she miss all the dun letters or calls? Creditors can drive you crazy.

When they make the decision to let foreclosure happen as well as default on the second with their close friends, they flee to the Appalachians to live in an abandoned cabin in a North Carolina holler.

I’ve lived in tar paper shacks—they can be populated (depending on where you live) by spiders (especially black widows), snakes, and every manner of bug or mammal that can find a hole from the size of a pin to a dime. And their old cabin is no better. It takes a while, doing what little they can with what they saved by not paying their last several mortgage payments. UGH! I see a lot of beans in their future.

Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGahaGradually, however, she begins to think about chickens. She could raise them, gather and/or sell eggs. Then goats. GOATS! Not an animal I would have considered—remembering how well they perform head butts. And BTW, chickens do have personalities.

Here is what I don’t understand, however; where did they get the money to be buying chickens and build their coop, much less the appropriate provisions and feed for goats? For that matter, chicken feed isn’t cheap and chickens can waste almost as much as they eat. Descriptions of breeding the goats were penned in detail and don’t get me started on the vet bills.

You have to say that listening to this audiobook is like listening to an impending train wreck. They learn the hard way, not having had experience with animals other than canines, and make some big mistakes along the way. There are regrets, embarrassment, shame, loss, recriminations, and a lot of soul-searching. Plus, you gotta love the title.

Sometimes the decisions become outrageous. It’s easy to castigate others’ actions, particularly when so many people have experienced extreme financial conditions and similar hardships and found a way to work through them honorably. Still, the narration is excellent and the author’s wit and sense of humor shine through. As maddening as it can be, it’s also engaging, entertaining, at times enlightening. For one thing, I’ll never try to breed a goat.

The conclusion comes rather abruptly; guess there was nowhere else to go, but pretty much sums up the journey to living happily off the land.

I received a complimentary review copy of this audiobook from my local lovely library. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Agricultural & Food Sciences, Biographies of Women, Agricultural Science
Publisher: Tantor Audio
ASIN: B078WZVJSF
Listening Length: 9 hrs 19 mins
Narrator: Pam Ward
Publication Date: January  23, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Flat Broke with Two Goats [Amazon]

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Rosepoint Publishing: Four stars 4 stars

Jennifer McGaha- authorThe Author: A native of Appalachia, Jennifer McGaha lives with her husband, five dogs, twenty-three chickens, and one high-maintenance cat in a tin-roofed cabin bordering the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. Her creative nonfiction work has appeared in Brooklyner, Toad Suck Review, Switchback, Still, Portland Review, Little Patuxent Review, Lumina, Literary Mama, Mason’s Road, Now and Then, and others. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, mountain biking, sampling local beers, and playing with dogs.

©2022 V Williams – V Williams

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