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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Depth of a true literary

Do not pick this book until you are ready to listen, ponder, and enjoy the art of writing. The stories serve as a backdrop to a wonderfully crafted novel. Enjoy.

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  • Kimberly
  • Kalaheo, HI, United States
  • 06-20-16

Meh...

This narrator drove me bananas!! The Irish accent was super annoying to me…so many times the word "boot" becomes "but"…aaargh…

I really dislike narrators that don't just read the story, with occasional affect for dialogue or dramatic parts. The constant over acting coupled with the accent made this one of the most irritating books I have listened to in a long time.

The story meanders through these many lives…I am naturally drawn in to stories, particularly from different periods in history, but this whole thing just falls flat for me! I don't find myself loving or really caring about any of these characters. Sorry to give a bad review but didn't enjoy this as much as I was hoping to!!

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Another masterful story by McCann

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I love the way McCann weaves so many seemingly unrelated threads into a single, cohesive narrative.

What other book might you compare TransAtlantic to and why?

Let the Great World Spin

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  • TAJ
  • Alameda, CA United States
  • 12-01-15

Engaging

If you could sum up TransAtlantic in three words, what would they be?

Mesmerizing, engaging, lyrical

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lottie was my favorite because her thoughts were the most engaging.

What about Geraldine Hughes’s performance did you like?

Her narrative was lyrical and pleasing. She added so much to the book. I had Whispersynch so sometimes I read and sometimes I listened. Parts of the book were hard to follow on Audible so I switched to reading. The last chapter was marvelous with Geraldine.

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

Too difficult.

Any additional comments?

I found that Colum switched around too much. Halfway through I was about to abandon the book because I wasn't sure who was in the story. He lost me by spanning so many years.
I kept going and was rewarded with a symphony of thoughts and words.

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Top five best audiobooks I've ever heard

Geraldine Hughes captured each voice PERFECTLY. McCann tells a story of four generations of women whose lives are woven into the fabric of Irish history. It is never preachy or predictable. He tells a story like a poet or even a painter using words like brush strokes. Maybe an even better analogy is song because in the voice of Ms. Hughes the book has a lyrical quality to it. Meanwhile, far more than a simple family history, Transatlantic is almost an elegy, a meditation, a memoir or reflection on grief, loss, war, freedom, pilgrimage. There aren't words to describe the beauty of this book because McCann himself would have to write them.

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Irish Lives Matter

Which seems to be major theme here. The small, quiet conversations, chores, choices and memories of 3 generations of a northern Irish family. Mostly about the women and how hard luck shaped all of their lives. I listened to the lovely Irish cadences of the narrator on a Long car ride and found this story surprisingly compelling and was sad to leave the characters behind when it ended. Loved the device of "what's in the secret letter" near the end and the realization that it wasn't the letter that mattered or brought any luck to Hannah but the people she met because of the letter who made the difference in her life.

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Excellent book, well read

Really enjoyed this one - McCann expertly weaves the historical narratives together into a seamless saga that keeps the reader interested throughout.

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  • susan
  • Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 08-27-14

Moments in history

This is a compelling, action packed book which highlights moments in history that stand as individual stories in their own right but are connected through their transatlantic history. Starting with the first plane flight from Canada to Ireland and concluding with George Mitchell and his work on the Irish peace process it is well written and fascinating.

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  • Marsha
  • Boulder, CO, United States
  • 08-21-13

Excellent

If you could sum up TransAtlantic in three words, what would they be?

Irish generational saga

What other book might you compare TransAtlantic to and why?

Colum McCann is a wonderful writer and the beautiful writing in TransAtlantic compares very well with his Let the Great World Spin. The opening chapter - the flight - is as poetic as DeLilllo's World Series baseball chapter in Underworld. As far as the story, it is similar to The Son by Phillip Meyers, which is a Texas generational saga. TransAtlantic is better.

What about Geraldine Hughes’s performance did you like?

Fabulous! A good reader can make the book even more enjoyable, and Ms. Hughes certainly did that for me.

If you could take any character from TransAtlantic out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Lotte because of her interesting life.

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  • Linda
  • Middleburg, VA, United States
  • 09-02-13

Get Depressed!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Different stories

Would you ever listen to anything by Colum McCann again?

Too Depressing

Would you listen to another book narrated by Geraldine Hughes?

Maybe

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Good prose/ language use

Any additional comments?

Had to abandon it in the third section, as the stories were just too depressing

0 of 1 people found this review helpful