Monday, January 7, 2013


A stunning, evocative novel set in Ireland and Canada, Away traces a family’s complex and layered past. The narrative unfolds with shimmering clarity, and takes us from the harsh northern Irish coast in the 1840s to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa at the time of Confederation to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake during the present day. Graceful and moving, Away unites the personal and the political as it explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Powerful, intricate, lyrical, Away is an unforgettable novel.
I started reading this book a few days ago, and whenever I sat down to read I lost track of time.  It's a beautifully written book, and I cannot understand why I haven't read this book before.  I have read books by the author before, but not this one.  

The story starts in Ireland in a fictional island. A young girl is "taken away" by the spirit of a dead young man. She comes back, but she is not the same girl as before, gone is Mary and now she is Moira.  The inhabitants of the island are both scared and enthralled by Mary/Moira.  The priest is concerned about the turmoil that she is causing the men so he asks a young friend, Brian, to marry her.  Brian and Mary seem to hit it off, he's kind and understanding and she feels a connection to him. The potato famine hits and Brian and Mary leave for Canada. And so the myth continues with the women of Mary's family. I don't want to give too much of the story, you need to read it for yourself.  The pain and the sorrow is there in the story but also the hope in the New World.  But the most significant part of this book is the mystical feeling to it. The magic is all throughout the book.

Away by Jane Urquhart (4.5/5) Historical Fiction; Published: McClelland & Stewart (1993); Canada Reads 2013 (2); Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2013 (2); Library; Books 2013 (2);


Kailana said...

I seem to collect Urquhart and not actually read her... Really must one of these days!

Audra said...

I found you via Historical Tapestry's Hist Fic review post for Jan and I'm so glad -- I love your taste in books and your thoughtful reviews! Just started following you -- looking forward to book chats and adding to my TBR! (Like this book -- love the title, the premise, the cover!)