I managed to read two books by Irish authors [or parts of said books] over St. Patty’s day, which was the only thing that I did to celebrate, sadly. transatlantic

But enough about my green beer-less weekend; TransAtlantic was fun. I mean, it wasn’t ha-ha fun, but it was interesting fun.

The overarching theme is, I suppose, Transatlantic crossings–crossings from Ireland to the US, US to Ireland, Canada to Ireland..etc. Mostly Ireland and North America. There’s some talk about the feeling of flying, but it’s pretty peripheral.

Every chapter is set in a different time & place from the early 1800’s to the 1970’s ( 1845-46, Ireland; 1919, Newfoundland), and each is written from a different viewpoint. Only two chapters are NOT written from the viewpoint of a woman, which is an interesting choice on McCann’s part, seeing as in Let the Great World Spin I think there was only one section from a woman’s viewpoint–correct me if I’m wrong. The majority of the time it sounded authentic–only once or twice did I stop and think wait, what gender of person is supposed to be narrating this? Because this sounds like a man.

The seemingly disparate parts are all connected by a line of women–Lily, Emily, Lottie, and Hannah. It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I actually got this (I try not to read the summary on the back of the book before I read the actual book). I was pretty frustrated for the first half as to WHAT the heck was going on…because seriously, the first cross-Atlantic flight & Frederick Douglass do not really go together. & then when I figured out the women thing (b/c they are both VERY minor participants in the first couple sections) I was like….ohhhhhh.


Joey gets me.

The only beef that I had with this book is that McCann has one sentence structure and he sticks with it. Through the whole book. I wanted to scream. Bloody murder. And throw the book. Possibly across the room. After 50 pages.

You get the idea.

Anyway, four stars out of five for some beautiful writing, clever plotting–but really obnoxious sentence structure. If you’re going for a we’re-all-connected novel, I think I prefer The Illusion of Separateness, which (although the title could be improved upon) did it better, in my opinion. That one comes out in June, by Simon Van Booy.

disclaimer: I received this ARC for free in exchange for a fair review.



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