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by Patricia Reilly Giff

Category: Fiction / Historical
176 pages; ISBN: 0385326580

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Norman Goldman


The following review was contributed by:
LILIANE AZERAD-GOLDMAN with the collaboration of Norman Goldman

Following the acclaimed debut of NORY RYAN’S SONG, Patricia Reilly Giff
continues the theme of the Irish potato famine in MAGGIE’S DOOR.

In her richly suspenseful second novel, Ms Giff travels back in time to a crucial moment in the history of the massive exodus from Ireland to the promised land: America, i.e. Maggie’s Door.

Nory Ryan and her boyfriend Sean Red Mallon travel separately on the dangerous roads of Ireland towards the port and the cavernous ship that will take them to Maggie’s door.

Starving, weak, forever looking for the members of their family, they almost get lost in the chaos of the exodus. The juxtaposition of the well-fed English Lords makes the story even more poignant.

Ms Giff keeps Nory’s and Ryan’s stories separate, alternating suspenseful chapters until the very end. She is a master of imagery; we can almost smell and see the ooze of the rotting potatoes. We can feel the suffering of the people used as ballast in the hull of the ship.

At its best MAGGIE’S DOOR is a deeply moving and disturbing novel. We cannot fathom the hunger and the poverty brought upon by such a curse as the potato famine. At the same time, it is uplifting. Love, strength and endurance finally prevail.

MAGGIE’S DOOR could also serve as a stepping-stone for more research on this sad period in history.

Although the book may prove to be a challenging read for the suggested age group of 8-12 group, it also shows respect for children’s intelligence and curiosity.

The author effectively presents information clearly without dumbing down for her readers.

This review first appeared at:




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