The Star of the Sea: Farewell to Old Ireland

The Star of the Sea: Farewell to Old Ireland

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Joseph O'Connor

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 201mm x 33mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 27 April 2004
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099469626
  • ISBN 13: 9780099469629
  • Sales rank: 43,826

Product description

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist, a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution. The twenty-six day journey will see many lives end, others begin afresh. In a spellbinding story of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the further the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past which will never let them go.

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Author information

Joseph O'Connor was born in Dublin. His novels include Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Star of the Sea (Irish Post Award for Fiction, France's Prix Millepages, Prix Madeleine Zepter for European Novel of the Year), Redemption Falls, and Ghost Light (Dublin One City One Book Novel, 2011). In 2012 he won the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature. His work has been published in thirty-five languages. www.josephoconnorauthor.com

Customer reviews

By Penny Cunningham 20 Jul 2010 4

I was not sure about this book to begin with, it took me a while to get into it and work out who was who! I found it confusing when the author kept calling Lord Kingscourt, David Merridith sometimes and Kingscourt at others, it was a while before I realised that they were one and the same! But when I had worked out who was who and what part they played in the story I did started to understand it better!!
The Star of the Sea is a ship sailing to America from Ireland at the time of the famine. The Steerage passangers had pawned, stolen and done all manor of things to get the fare together and leave the hideous privations that had taken hold in Ireland when the potato crops failed, three or four years in a row. They had NOTHING and dreamed of finding a paradise across the Atlantic in America.
In steerage we hear the story of a murderer, and why he had to commit this terrible crime. In first class were Lord Kingscourt and his wife and two young sons who were also fleeing Ireland,(Kingscourt was perceived as one of the despicable landlords, evicting the poor, starving, sick tenants who could not pay their rents) along with their maid Mary Duane, who features quite significantly in the story. And there was also a newspaper reporter who happened to be Laura Kingscourt's lover. And is a very uncomfortable character.
The story jumps back and forth from the ship taking this volitile mixture of passengers to America, and Connemara in Ireland highlighting the terrible living conditions for the people there.
I thought the book thought provoking but entirely predictable. Uncomfortable at times for the unfairness of it all, and the misery that the English caused these people. It wasn't for me entirely enjoyable, but was compelling nonetheless

Review quote

"A page-turner of a masterpiece. Don't miss it" Daily Mail "Stunningly accomplished" Guardian "A triumph...A spectacular breakthrough...it raises the bar for contemporary Irish fiction" Sunday Times "A terrific story... A stealthily gripping narrative" Daily Telegraph "This is Joseph O'Connor's best book. It is shocking, hilarious, beautifully written, and very, very clever" -- Roddy Doyle