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TransAtlantic [Paperback]

Colum McCann
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 24 April 2014 --  
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Book Description

24 April 2014
In 1919 Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of World War One to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. In 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. And in 1998 Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. Stitching these stories intricately together, Colum McCann sets out to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; UK open market ed edition (24 April 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1408849976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408849972
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Colum McCann, originally from Dublin, Ireland, is the author of five novels and two collections of stories and has won numerous international literary awards for his writing. His film Everything in This Country Must was nominated for a short-film Oscar in 2005. Zoli, Dancer and This Side of Brightness were international bestsellers and his latest novel, Let the Great World Spin, won the 2009 National Book Award. His fiction has been published in twenty-seven languages. Colum McCann lives in New York.

(Photo credit: James Higgins)

Product Description


It is, simply, perfect Irish Examiner Majestic Sunday Times Quite simply one of the best, most sustained pieces of fiction I've read in some time ... A novel of true resonance and power Independent His vivid, reactive and heartfelt fiction lives and breathes, sighs and weeps Eileen Battersby, Irish Times Beautifully hypnotic . Those who can't see the point of historical novels will find their answer here Emma Donoghue, author of Room A very gifted, charming writer; in full, rhapsodic-onrush mode, he is hard to resist Guardian Beautifully poignant -- Andrew Marr Mail on Sunday

Book Description

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2013. The astonishing new novel from Colum McCann, the National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Always precise and insightful in his descriptions, and so in tune with his settings that they seem to breathe with his characters, Irish author Colum McCann uses three different plot lines set in three different time periods to begin this new novel, and all three plots are connected intimately to Ireland. In the process, he also creates a powerful sense of how men and women, no matter where they start out, may become so inspired to reach seemingly impossible goals that they willingly risk all, including their lives, to achieve success, often in new places, away from "home." Always, however, they remain connected to their pasts.

The imagery of flight which reappears throughout the novel comes from events which take place in Book One, set in 1919. John "Jack" Alcock and Arthur "Teddy" Brown, real characters, are readying themselves to become the first pilots to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, non-stop, in less than seventy-two hours. Both men, veterans of the First World war, want a clean slate, "the obliteration of memory." By making a few adjustments to the Vickers Vimy they know so well, "they [will be] using the bomber in a brand-new way: they were taking the war out of the plane, stripping the whole thing of its penchant for carnage," and opening whole new worlds of possibility. When the two aviators take off, a local photographer, Lottie Erlich, persuades Brown to hand-carry a letter written by her mother Emily to a family in Cork. (The Ehrlich family will eventually connect all the major plot lines throughout the book, and the letter will become a motif which develops further.) As the Alcock-Brown trip in this open-cockpit plane begins, the reader becomes totally involved in the excitement and danger. For Alcock and Brown, "The point of flight. To get rid of oneself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Irish American 11 July 2013
Column McCann has written a terrific book of great Irish-American symbiosis. A combination of the people from the land he came from and loves, and the new America that he inhabits. What we have is a positive recollection of the people, stories and the Irish heritage that is celebrated. Freedom and War are the overriding stories.

The story begins in 1919, with the planning and actual nonstop transatlantic flight by two British airmen, Alcock and Brown, who flew from Newfoundland to Galway in their old bomber. This is an exhilarating story and flight. Along the way we meet a journalist, Emily Ehrlich, and her daughter, Lottie. They have an up close meeting with Alcock and Brown, as Emily is covering their flight. We move on to the visit of the great black man, Frederick Douglass, as he stomps through Ireland in 1845, during the Great Famine, lecturing about his autobiography, without a worry about the racism he faces back in the United States. We meet Lily Duggan, who was a maid at the home of Douglass's host. And, then, my favorite of the stories, George Mitchell and his time in 1998, negotiating a truce between England and the Irish Republic. Mitchell is a new father in his second marriage, and every two weeks he flies fromhis home in New York City to Ireland and then to Washington, DC. He gathers information, talks to all the involved parties, and then flies home to New York for a few days, where he starts the traveling again. We learn of is life in this time and the people he meets and greets, and one of these people is Lottie.

In the second portion of the book, these women, Emily, Lottie and Lily have a more profound impact, as they are the features of the rest of the story. These women tie all of the stories together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars doesnt hold your atterntiom 27 Feb 2014
By L S.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am struggling to finish reading this, just to see if the many individual stories tie up together. Sorry, its the most boring, least flowing book I have ever read. Doesn't live up to its reviews AT ALL. :(
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Transatlantic tales 14 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was my first Colum McCann novel and I was intrigued by the premise but have to admit I was disappointed when I realised it was a series of short stories. However, on closer inspection they're not actually `short stories' in the traditional sense, more a series of interlinked tales on the theme of journeys from Ireland to America, and back again, and I enjoyed them a lot.

We start in 1919 with Alcock and Brown making the first transatlantic non-stop flight, and then head back to 1845 when freed slave Frederick Douglass visited Ireland to meet some of the Quakers and others abolitionists who supported his cause. Then it's forward over 100 years to observe Senator George Mitchell during his negotiations to bring about for the Good Friday Agreement (indeed Ireland's troubles, of one sort or another, form the backdrop to several of the stories). In each chapter there are supporting characters - a Newfoundland journalist and her photographer daughter who are sent to cover Alcock & Brown's flight, an Irish maid in the house of Douglass's benefactor - who return later on to tell their own story and tie all the threads together.

Each absorbing and poignant tale deals with common themes such as escape from adversity, exploring new horizons and above all, hope. Despite their brevity, all managed to convey a sense of optimism as well as illustrating many different facets of two different but closely linked countries. If like me you're (a) new to this author and (b) not usually a fan of short stories, this is a great place to start.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Transatlantic
A tremendous achievement, so much to love about this book. Such a great sweep - over two hundred years and over both sides of the Atlantic
Published 1 month ago by Dr. M. Conway
4.0 out of 5 stars An historic Crossing weaves a wondrous tale
Alcock & Brown's historic crossing commences a wonderful story so beautifully told.

From the moment of impact in the bogland of Connemara.... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing as you would expect but a lot going on!
The Irish are well renowned as great story tellers and this author certainly carries on that legacy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kiwiflora
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Irish Prose and and Intricate Structure
‘The cottage sat at the edge of the Lough. She could hear the wind and rain whipping across the expanse of open water. Read more
Published 2 months ago by The Book Witch
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written set of interlinked stories
Less a novel than a series of interlinked short stories, some based on fact, covering periods from the mid-19th century to 2011 and some major parts of Irish and US history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. F. Cayley
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written piece of work from a great writer.
Beautifully written with connections woven skilfully between all the stories. A joy to read! Look forward to many more pieces from McCann.
Published 2 months ago by Sean Cunningham
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but lacks something
I read this book based on the excellent reviews. However, I didn't really enjoy the book which, as another reviewer has said, comprises separate short stories with a tenuous link... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Briggs115
5.0 out of 5 stars Transatlantic
Beautifully written drawing together so many story strands in such a light way. He suggests things and leaves it to your own imagination to fill out the story. Read more
Published 3 months ago by rosella mccormick
5.0 out of 5 stars Transatlantic
Beautifully written. A joy to read, each word like a morsel of food to savour and enjoy before being devoured and absorbed.
Published 4 months ago by Diane Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars such a good read.
The first chapter about Alcock and Brown's flight across the Atlantic is so amazing. Each chapter is like a separate story, subtly linked. Read more
Published 4 months ago by barbara jones
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