I recently finished reading "Transatlantic," by Colm McCann. Several years ago, a friend gave me McCann's previous novel, "Let the Great World Spin." I hated it; didn't like the times, didn't like the setting or the subject (mid-1970s drug-infested New York City).
I Loved "Translatlantic." It is story of a family (specifically a grandmother, mother and daughter) touched by several historic events of the 19th and 20th century: The 1919 flight of Alcock and Brown from Newfoundland east to Clifden, Co. Galway (the first transatlantic flight), the 1845-46 visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland, and the final days of the Good Friday Peace Accord in 1998. The first half of the book is a man's world; the second half contains a fine study of strong and independent women battered by the world, but not broken by it. History swirls around them from An Gorda Mor to the Great War and from the Suffrage Movement to the Troubles as the characters in the book move back and forth from the Old World to the New and back again.
What remains is collective memory. McCann writes, "We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing mobius strip until we come home,eventually, to ourselves."
A novel to savor.