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From different counties in Ireland, Maggie Qualter and Richard Terrett both sail to America as young
adults in 1870 after surviving Ireland’s Great Hunger as children. Maggie works as a maid for a wealthy
family. Richard finds work in a tannery. After the death of the young wife he loves passionately, Richard
joins with Maggie in an arranged marriage, which is poisoned from the beginning by well-intentioned lies. Their children grow
up in the midst of Irish American culture, the Catholic Church, and their father’s battles for the workingman in the
Knights of Labor. Mary dreams of being a nun, while Josie seeks the freedom of big-city life in Boston.
Neither reckons on the future she will face, Mary as a wife and mother of nine children and Josie as a single working
woman. Tom escapes factory life by joining the Navy, manages to see the world in the midst of two wars,
and comes home to marry his sweetheart and start a new life.
This book is fact-based historical fiction. The
events in the Terretts’ lives are as they emerge from the public record. But their inner lives, their
thoughts, their relationships, their words are imagined as a route to understanding these five complicated and fascinating
people. Their stories are both singular and recognizable to everyone whose ancestors made their way to
and in America.