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TransAtlantic: A Novel | [Colum McCann]

TransAtlantic: A Novel

In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force". Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.
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Publisher's Summary

In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force". Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.

Newfoundland, 1919: Two aviators - Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown - set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War.

Dublin, 1845 and ’46: On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause - despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave.

New York, 1998: Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.

These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on. From the loughs of Ireland to the flatlands of Missouri and the windswept coast of Newfoundland, their journeys mirror the progress and shape of history. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.

The most mature work yet from an incomparable storyteller, TransAtlantic is a profound meditation on identity and history in a wide world that grows somehow smaller and more wondrous with each passing year.

©2013 Colum McCann (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"This novel is beautifully hypnotic in its movements, from the grand (between two continents, across three centuries) to the most subtle. Silkily threading together public events and private feelings, TransAtlantic says no to death with every line." (Emma Donoghue)

"A masterful and profoundly moving novel that employs exquisite language to explore the limits of language and the tricks of memory...epic in ambition...audacious in format." (Kirkus Reviews)

"A beautiful writer... This is what interests McCann: lives made amid and despite violence; the hidden braids of places, times, and people; the way the old days ‘arrive back in the oddest ways.’" (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (214 )
5 star
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4.1 (177 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Diane Colson Nashville 37205 08-16-13
    Diane Colson Nashville 37205 08-16-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
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    Story
    "Good narrator miscast"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I would probably recommend reading this book with your eyes, rather than listening to the audiobook.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Geraldine Hughes does have a beautiful voice for narration, but just didn't fit the demands of this book, in my opinion. She reads with a breathless urgency that kind of numbed me to variations in the suspense level. I found myself tuning out, then backtracking when I realized something dramatic had occurred. Hughes was in her element during the last segment of the book, however.(No spoilers here!)The story was very character-driven, which I usually enjoy. Again I blame the narration because I didn't get a sense of the various characters through Hughes's interpretation. The two pilots in the first section sounded like one guy, or maybe one woman with a lovely Irish accent.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anastasia Burke California 06-18-13
    Anastasia Burke California 06-18-13 Member Since 2007

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too breathtaking to read just once..."
    If you could sum up TransAtlantic in three words, what would they be?

    Year's best book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I fell in love with the marvelous word-craft of Colum McCann when I read AS THE GREAT WORLD TURNS. Like that award-winning book, the is a book with many threads, many nuances, many colors. All of it is glorious. What I love best about this story is the entrancing language. As I've told everyone I can get my hands on, I read this book in just two days because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. But I shall read it again, starting today, this time at a more meditative pace, the better to immerse myself in the McCann's language, his pacing, his art. What a writer!!!


    Have you listened to any of Geraldine Hughes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I do not recall hearing Geraldine Hughes prior to this book, but I will be researching her other narratives. She is absolutely spot-on, the BEST, the ONLY person they could have chosen for this book. Like a true pro, she embodies each character, both men and women, black, white, Irish, British, old and young, in such a way that I never once thought I was listening to a book--I was simply in it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    One of my favorite books ever, certainly among the best I've read so far in 2013. As far as laughing or crying, I listened to the final chapter while making dinner. As the last few paragraphs were coming up (and I didn't know they were the last), I found myself standing over the kitchen sink, tears running down my face. I felt grief-stricken, yet so imbued with love and gratitude for all the grace that life, in its terrors, does offer us. That's what Colum McCann can do to you.

    As soon as the last word was read, I immediately back-tracked to listen to the last chapter again. Today, I am starting the book over from Chapter 1--and this time I'll take it slow, savoring every sinewy sentence that McCann has so beautifully created.

    Simply beautiful.


    Any additional comments?

    As I said above, read it once for the terrific tale. Read it again immediately after for the grand language, a truly marvelous effort from McCann.

    Yeah...let me skip to the crux of it...JUST BUY IT!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim Rapid City, SD, United States 07-08-13
    Tim Rapid City, SD, United States 07-08-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "These stories pull you in!"
    What did you love best about TransAtlantic?

    TransAtlantic takes you by the hand and leads you through history. Simple lives, likes all of us have, are laid out before us, complete with the connection to the lives that came before them. You get pulled in by a great story teller! A completely enjoyable novel!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of TransAtlantic?

    The final sentence wraps up everything that has been told in this story and brings a smile to your face.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes!


    Any additional comments?

    Geraldine Hughes has a lovely voice. She did a fantastic job on this one.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 06-21-13
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 06-21-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Historical fiction with a philosophical message"

    Close your eyes and picture me smiling.

    That is me after finishing this book. I was so very satisfied, pleased, happy. I think this book is fantastic.

    McCann has perfect dialogs, be they set centuries earlier or two years ago. His books do demand that you pay close attention, but they deliver a message that is worth the reader's effort. He skillfully interweaves historical events into fiction. His characters come alive. Every single sentence has a purpose. His ability to put the reader in another time or place cannot be improved upon. I absolutely love his writing.

    You may choose this book to learn about the Abolitionist Movement or Suffragist Movement or the Good Friday Accords or Transatlantic navigation or to understand how "there isn't a story in the world that isn't addressed to the past." What does that tell us in how we should live our own lives?


    I listened to the audiobook narration by Geraldine Hughes. Me, I love the Irish dialect. Perfect.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Dittmer San Diego, CA United States 08-22-13
    Grant Dittmer San Diego, CA United States 08-22-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Atlantic crossings and interconnections"
    Where does TransAtlantic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best books I've read this year. This is my first review ever and I am doing this for the first time because of the impact this book has had on me. I love how this book is about the characters' crossings back and forth between North America and Ireland and also how the characters' lives are interwoven within the context of actual historical events. It makes the characters seem all the more tangible -- as if they weren't already. McCann writes with such inventive use of metaphor I had to stop the audio every now and again just to absorb the words and the imagery they evoked. But this wasn't overdone -- thank goodness -- otherwise I'd still be listening to it!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lottie's life seemed to span most of the book's 170+ years and linked together not only the beginning and end of the book but also both sides of the Atlantic. She captured just enough optimism to overcome some of the challenges experienced by her ancestors and her successors.


    What about Geraldine Hughes’s performance did you like?

    Her accent was just noticeable enough to feel authentic without encumbering the dialogue. She lent sensitivity to some of the more tragic and heartfelt moments in the book so that I felt the events without noticing the narration.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Many. That's what makes this such a great book. Whether its famine, slavery, the conflict in Northern Ireland, or the courage to cross the Atlantic in such a small plane. There are many such moments in this book that it makes you log onto Wikipedia just to get more information about these events.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pam Owls Head, Maine, United States 02-18-14
    Pam Owls Head, Maine, United States 02-18-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Didn't hold together"
    Would you try another book from Colum McCann and/or Geraldine Hughes?

    Yes, I do plan to read Let the Great World Spin


    Would you ever listen to anything by Colum McCann again?

    Not sure I would listen again. That could have been why it seemed so disjointed.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Loved the story about Senator Mitchell.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Maybe.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen A. Orth La Crescenta, CA 09-09-13
    Kathleen A. Orth La Crescenta, CA 09-09-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pure poetry!!!"
    What did you love best about TransAtlantic?

    The language.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The interconnections between the characters and their times.


    What about Geraldine Hughes’s performance did you like?

    Perfection!


    Who was the most memorable character of TransAtlantic and why?

    Many were equally memorable.


    Any additional comments?

    I have enjoyed this more than any other audible book I have 'read'.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-20-13
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-20-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    125
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    64
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    10
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    "Great Book, Very Depressing"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only if the friend has a high tolerance for unremitting depression


    What did you like best about this story?

    Vignettes of history. I really liked the portion of the peace negotiations.


    Have you listened to any of Geraldine Hughes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    She is a fine narrator


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I read from the beginning to Chapter 7 and quit. I could not take ne more death of a child. The thought of the Irish immigrant woman losing so much finished me with the book.


    Any additional comments?

    The author is talented and I loved his first book. This one ground my heart. Read only if you are strong.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sherry Kirkland, WA, United States 07-20-13
    sherry Kirkland, WA, United States 07-20-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    "Disappointing"

    I hardly dare disagree with all the rave reviews, but this book takes me back to college assignments to read excellently written books that bored me out of my skull. I can't be sure if the problem is the narrator's repetitive, choppy rendition that rolls through every phrase and sentence at the same pace or if the pace of the writing itself is the same throughout. I suspect the problem is the narrator and plan to read the text instead.

    The research is meticulous and accurate, the writing as precise as you would expect from McCann. This book lacks the deep involvement with each character that Let the Great World Spin had. I read about each character from a distance, more like a newspaper report racing through events. In a novel, I want to live with the characters, be right on the ground with them rather than peering down from above.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    s Lincolnshire, IL, United States 01-23-14
    s Lincolnshire, IL, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "Pilot"
    Would you try another book from Colum McCann and/or Geraldine Hughes?

    No


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    I loved the first chapter. As pilot I believed this book was about flying and ....was surprised


    Any additional comments?

    The voice......horrid

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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