Colum McCann

First Sentence:     The cottage sat at the edge of the lough.

Back of the book:

1919. Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of the First World War to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. Among the letters being carried on the aircraft is one which will not be opened for almost a hundred years. 1998. Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. How many more bereaved mothers and grandmothers must he meet before an agreement can be reached? 1845. Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling at his feet. On his travels he inspires a young maid to go to New York to embrace a free world, but the land does not always fulfill its promises for her. From the violent battlefields of the Civil War to the ice lakes of northern Missouri, it is her youngest daughter Emily who eventually finds her way back to Ireland.

Can we pass from the new world to the old? How does the past shape the future? In TransAtlantic, National Book Award-winning Colum McCann has achieved an outstanding act of literary bravura. Intricately crafted, poetic and deeply affecting it weaves together personal stories to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.

Quotes from the book:

It is one of their beauties, the Irish, the way they crush and expand the language all at once. How they mangle it and revere it. How they colour even their silences. He has sat in a room for hours on end listening to men talk about words and yet never mention the one word they want. The maniacal meanderings. The swerves and sways.

‘The miracle of the actual.’

Emily could sense the skip in her life, almost like the jumping of a pen. The flick of ink across a page. The great surprise of the next stroke. The boundlessness of it all.

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Last Sentence:     We have to admire the world for not ending on us.