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Publisher's Summary

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York. On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees, some brimming with optimism, many more desperate. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his wife and children, an aspiring novelist, and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution. The 26-day journey will see many lives end, others begin afresh. Passionate loves are tenderly recalled, ducked responsibilities regretted too late; profound relationships shockingly unearthed where once it seemed there were none.

In a spellbinding story of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the further the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past which will never let them go. A novel as urgently contemporary in its preoccupations as it is historically revealing, this gripping and compassionate tale builds with the pace of a thriller to an unforgettable conclusion.

©2004 Joseph O'Connor (P)2004 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"This is a tremendous book; affecting, intelligent, ironic, humane, and utterly convincing. It is also extremely funny." (Spectator [London])

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 02-16-06

Fabulous! A truly exceptional audio book!

I haven't enjoyed a novel as much as this for a very long time. This is an engrossing, tragic and compelling story, full of interesting and well crafted characters set against a fascinating and troubling canvas. Joseph O'Connor has excellent narrative and literary skills. This passionate tale is perfectly complimented by John Kavanagh's outstanding narration. His breadth of characterization and interpretation added enormously to my enjoyment. Indeed, on several occasions I rearranged my social life to accommodate this excellent audio book which, incidentally, was my first Audible download.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth Davies
  • 06-02-08

Exceptional story

I enjoyed this audiobook more than I can say. It was totally absorbing and I was sorry that it was not a longer listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Martin
  • 10-14-09

It was OK I suppose

A very contrived tale where the story telling perspective was changed in a most tortured way.

The underlying history is fascinating but the tale weaved on top of historical basis was just too awkward.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 06-15-17

pleasant surprise

I found the interwoven stories really engaging. really recommend - don't let the idea it is based on a ship out you off!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Louise
  • 02-25-15

Great book

Good story, I got this book on audio because I was finding it difficult to read

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 04-16-11

Not a bundle of joy!

Thoroughly enjoyed this when I read it for myself. Somehow, the move to audio is less successful: just a thoroughly depressing, miserable story. For some reason, there is phoney Irish music scattered throughout, which adds nothing to my mind, and I felt that the narrator struggled with some of the accents - particularly the American ones which wandered all over the place.
It's a grim tale of the lasting effects of colonisation of various kinds - the British in Ireland, religious colonisation of people's minds, men's colonisation of women - with little to redeem it. I think I've given it 3 stars simply for the recollection of actually enjoying the book when I read it, rather than the audio book.