I am a Colum McCann fan. He could write musings on the inside of an empty ice cream container and I’d read it. This sets the tone for the review I’m about to write – just so you’re prepared.
McCann is a master storyteller who weaves an extraordinary tale spanning 150 years, multiple countries and all while he introduces us to rich, multi-faceted characters who are related in some way. Toss in a touch of history and the novel is complete. McCann has done an enormous amount of research and has given us a robust, jam-packed novel.
The novel begins in 1919 with two aviators testing this new form of travel from Newfoundland to Ireland. In the course of preparing for the flight, Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown meet Emily and Lottie Ehrlich. Emily is a reporter and Lottie becomes a photographer.
Jump back to 1845 and we meet Frederick Douglass in Ireland just as the potato famine is in full swing. Why is he there? He meets Lily, a domestic who he will see again much later. How did they feel about each other?
Jump forward to 1998 to meet Senator George Mitchell who is introduced to…well, I’m not going to tell you. Suffice it to say that McCann’s novel moves effortlessly back and forth through a century and a half, skillfully intertwining characters we’ve known in history and fictional characters, who meet the historical characters, and their stories for a lush, inviting and captivating novel.
The novel ends in 2011 with a twist that left me content. I will be surprised if you tell me you weren’t riveted an unable to do chores. I began to mop the floor in the middle of Transatlantic
and when that proved cumbersome, I tossed the mop aside and finished the book.
Perhaps best known for Let the Great World Spin
(you MUST read it), McCann has written another superb novel in Transatlantic, destined to give readers goose bumps through the last sentence.- Wendy, Redbery Books, Cable, Wisconsin