~sigh~ It's one of "those" books. I added this one 6 (!) years ago. I'm not even sure I read HR back then, probably fell in love with the cover then forgot all about it with my unending list of books (focused on familiar authors). I didn't know what to expect from this one, but with it's high review rating (and the enchanting cover) I wasn't going to let it go until I found the right time. That day has come and I can tell you now, I'm going to visit more of Panela's books as this one was IMPOSSIBLE to put down. It was beautiful and heartfelt, as well as sad and crashing especially knowing that even if Kathleen (and Jack) aren't real what the Irish went through is.
It's 1846 and the Irish are literally starving to death. The English own their lands and expect them to grow everything for their own needs except for tiny plots of land the Irish grow potatoes on (as it's the most efficient plant for sustenance). When the potatoes rot in the ground and the English aren't even considering to help (while still demanding their crops and payment) there is little the Irish can do but stubbornly try to survive. When the second year of rotting potatoes comes it feels as if even the little hope they had is now gone. The Irish are dying of hunger and no one cares.
Kathleen Deacy is a proud Irishwoman, she never considered leaving Ireland behind but with her brother Sean coming home with a bit (but not enough) money - and without her sweetheart Danny O'Sheehan - she can't expect him to return to Canada when his wife Moira is so close to delivering their first born and she also wants a chance of reuniting with Danny. Taking a few belonging she sets for Newfoundland. Her journey start bad and turned to the worse when she is thrown out to sea in the middle of a storm. Lucky for her a passing whaling ship passes by and finds her. But upon waking up, nothing is as she expected it to be and while she is treated well she is still crushed with the meaning of this delay.