*“*They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”
1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.
1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.
Deeply moving and evocative prose. Haunting, tender yet hopeful. Pilgrim is a beautiful read that lingers. – Carmel Harrington
In this cynical age it’s a joy to encounter such sincerity, and wonderfully unexpected to see contemporary fiction as a profession of fervent yet gentle faith. Louise is a brave and humane writer, a breath of the freshest air. – Donal Ryan
In Dublin, fourteen-year-old Jen and her father, Charlie, are struggling to cope with the death of their mother/wife. Charlie, in particular, seems to have given up on life. When Jen’s aunt, Suzanne, convinces them to go on a pilgrimage to a strange village in Yugoslavia, there is hope that some solace or healing may be brought to their broken lives. On their arrival, however, they find a village in upheaval. An influx of pilgrims have swarmed into the village, each looking for their own miracle. Then there are the local police, who aim to suppress this so-called ‘revolution’. Amid all this, Jen makes a friend, Iva – one of the children who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary.
Told with a deep humanity and grace, Pilgrim is a story about a man who feels he has nothing to live for, and a daughter who is determined to prove him wrong.
by Orla McAlinden.
Ireland, 1848. Orphaned Sally Mahon has a choice to make. Lie down and die on the graves of her parents, or join the throngs of the dispossessed on the highways of Ireland. She turns her steps to the nearby town of Newbridge in Kildare, where she will carve a future for herself or die trying.
Tasmania, 1919. Spanish Flu sweeps through Hobart, travelling across the oceans with the soldiers returning from the war in Europe. Saoirse Gordon sits by her Grandmother’s sickbed. As the old woman cries out in her delirium, will the secrets Saoirse learns bring her peace, or destroy her forever? Have her Grandmother, her great-aunt and her mother been lying to her all her life? Saoirse races against time, and her grandmother’s illness, to unravel the secrets of her family.
Inspired by true events, the tales of real Irish women and girls weave throughout this poignant blend of fact and fiction. The Flight of the Wren explores the impact of the Irish famine of 1845-1849 on the women of Ireland. Acts of desperation, betrayal, courage and love illuminate this dark chapter of Ireland’s history in a complex and beautiful novel. Winner of the Cecil Day Lewis award 2016 and joint winner of the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 at the Irish Writers Centre.