"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

14 December 2013

2013 Book Review #35: The Crooked Branch

I just finished another good book.

It's been lightly snowing for the last 2 hours, so I spent quite some time this afternoon just resting and finishing this story.  I love to read and this is another page-turner for sure!


Majella, a food writer, has given birth to her first child, a daughter named Emma.  Her husband Leo is owner and head chef of a restaurant in NYC.  They live in Queens, in Majella's childhood house, after moving away from Manhattan to raise Emma.  Emma is just a few weeks old and Majella is feeling totally overwhelmed, physically and emotionally.  She also feels isolated as she is taking time off from her writing career.  Leo, of course, as most men do, continues on as though life hasn't changed. Majella meets a neighbor, Jade, who is a single mom of twins, Madeline and Max.  They form a friendship, based on the simple fact that they are both overwhelmed, first-time mothers.

One afternoon, Majella is poking around the attic and discovers an old diary written by one of her mother's ancestors.  It is written by a woman named Ginny Doyle who came to America from Ireland in the late 1840s.  Ginny and her  children were fleeing the Potato Famine.....and...it appears, from the diary and its contents that Ginny was also a murderer!!

Meanwhile, back in 1846, Ginny Doyle is trying to raise her 3 young daughters and a son during one of the worse events in Ireland's history:  the famine.  Her husband Raymond has left for America and is supposed to send money back to help feed his family.  Meanwhile, Ginny leaves her children under the care of her oldest daughter Maire, age 11, to work as a chambermaid at Springhill House, where a very wealthy but eccentric young wife lives, named Alice Spring.  Alice lives there but her husband lives in London.  Why??

What happens during those difficult years and why does Ginny call herself a killer in her diary??  

And is Majella going to be genetically fated to be a bad mother, even though she loves her own baby girl?

Majella is determined to find out the truth of what happened in Ireland with her ancestor Ginny.  

In delving into the past of her heritage and own identity, she discovers some shocking truths....about her family and about her self.


This book opened up in Ireland during the start of the potato famine in 1846.  The next chapter opened in NYC in the present day.  And I was hooked after the first paragraph!!

Every other chapter was either Ireland (Ginny's story) or NYC (Majella's story).

The characters are so real, you will want to meet them.  You will wish you could talk to Majella or comfort Ginny.  The characters are believable and the history of the potato famine is something I had heard of in history classes but didn't know much about.....how it really affected the families in rural Ireland...until I read this story.

This book taught me that motherhood is not always natural or easy for some women.  It taught me that there are floods of emotions during the postpartum recovery period and that we all, as mothers, have doubts about our skills and love.

It teaches us just how far we will go, and the scope of what we will do, to protect our children.

This is an excellent story.  I highly recommend it.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Susanne said...

This story sounds right up my alley. I think I've seen it before at the library so I'll maybe try and put a hold on it.

Susanne said...

btw: Loved that book you are reading now. Can't wait for your thoughts on it.