Relive the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic in “The Girl Who Came Home”
Although many people equate the sinking of the RMS Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet thanks to James Cameron’s hit 1997 flick, Hazel Gaynor’s debut novel The Girl Who Came Home explores the very human element of the tragedy without any cheesy romantic subplots.
The novel flips back and forth from 1912 to 1982 and revolves around a 17-year-old girl named Maggie who is emigrating from a small village in Ireland. After the sinking she vows never to speak of the Titanic—at least until her great-granddaughter Grace is in need of support from her family in the wake of her father’s passing.
Unlike other novels or movies that revolve around the Titanic, there’s no mention of famous passengers such as the Astors or the Strausses. Instead, the focus is on the third-class passengers and the familial ties that bind them close together. These family ties span across Ireland and America to create an elusive thread that runs through the historical documents peppered throughout the novel. The bonds also prove to be one of the things that help keep Maggie and Grace going.
Hazel Gaynor’s The Girl Who Came Home is a breath of fresh air because it looks at how the Titanic affected the third-class passengers and their families who managed to survive the sinking. Also, by focusing on the forgotten immigrant passengers, their stories are allowed to shine after so many years of being ignored for the more “famous” names.