“An epic saga that sweeps you into the life of a remarkable woman,” Ann Moore’s trilogy of breathtaking historical novels covers Gracelin O’Malley’s life from the 1845 Famine and the Young Ireland movement to the mass emigration to America, culminating in the wild frontier of 1850s California (Romantic Times). Through it all, Gracelin’s indomitable spirit and Moore’s “vivid historical detail” prove most hauntingly memorable (Kirkus Reviews).
Gracelin O’Malley: As the potato famine devastates Ireland, Gracelin openly defies her English husband by feeding the desperate souls who come to their door, and secretly sides with the rebels who call themselves the Young Irelanders—including her beloved brother, Sean—as they fight to free their homeland from the yoke of English rule.
“Lyrical, pitch-perfect prose . . . Historical fiction at its finest.” —Publishers Weekly
Leaving Ireland: Forced to flee Ireland, Gracelin takes her young daughter with her on an arduous transatlantic voyage to New York City. As she tries to make a new life for herself and her daughter, she reunites with her brother and befriends a runaway slave, getting swept up into the volatile abolitionist movement.
“Moore blends romance and adventure. . . . Strong and likable characters and a well-paced story will make readers look forward to Gracelin’s next appearance.” —Booklist
’Til Morning Light: With her two children, Gracelin travels to post–Gold Rush San Francisco to meet the sea captain who has proposed to her. But when she arrives, he is nowhere to be found. Although destitute in a dangerous city, Gracelin vows to make a secure life for her children and find her brother.
“Readers who have been following the story of Gracelin O’Malley will be thrilled with the concluding volume in Moore’s trilogy.” —Booklist
About the Author
Ann Moore was born in England and grew up in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State. An award-winning author, Moore holds a master of arts from Western Washington University. Her trilogy of historical novels—Gracelin O’Malley, Leaving Ireland, and ’Til Morning Light—has been published internationally and enjoys a wide readership of enthusiastic fans. Moore and her family live in Bellingham, Washington.
Read an Excerpt
Campfire flickered in the woods along the far bank of the River Lee. It was early spring and the tinkers had come. If they had waited but another day, they would not have witnessed the terrible thing that happened there, nor saved the life of young Sean from down the glen, a boy whose mother never let them pass without half a loaf and a good word.
Late winter and early spring are the same in the East; freezing rivers and a deadly frost that lies invisible on fallen logs and stone bridges. The tinkers know this — each year they cross the Lee with a watchful eye, a respectful pace. But a boy might not think of it, a boy puffed up with fresh evening air and the charge of driving a frisky animal for his pretty mother who sings beside him and laughs when he goes too fast. Such a boy would not be mindful of ice on the bridge.
They rose from a crouch, these tinkers, the sudden static of disaster pulling them up only moments before the fast-moving cart overturned, pinning the boy on the bridge, throwing his mother over the edge. They stood upriver, unable to help. Even if one among them had known how to swim, he could not have reached the woman — so furiously ran the river — and after an endless minute of struggle, she disappeared. It was to the boy they ran, pulling off the heavy cart, faces grim when they saw how badly hurt he was: leg with a bone punched through, arm and shoulder crushed flat. He was breathing, but unconscious now, and they were glad for the mercy of it. One man put the jennet out of its misery with a swift plunge of his blade; the others carefully carried the boy to a wagon and set out toward Macroom, for they knew now that this was the son of Patrick and Kathleen O'Malley.
Darkness and freezing rain descended upon them, but they drove on, urging the horse down slippery, muddy back roads, two men holding the boy firm in the back of the cart. When at last they reached his lane, lights shone through cabin windows and smoke rose from the chimney as those inside waited on mother and son.
With nary a word among them, the tinkers climbed down and lifted out the body of the broken boy, carrying it to the door. They kicked loudly with bare feet, then shouted to be heard above the din of the rainstorm. They were met by the face of the boy's father, stunned though it was and slow to see that the boy still lived. He peered at the cart, looking for his wife, and the tinkermen all shook their heads, offering up the boy instead. His eyes faltered but a second; then he took the body of his son, bearing him gently into the cabin and laying him down on a heather pallet. Ryan O'Malley, elder son, hastily threw more turf on the smoldering fire and fetched Granna's kit bag. Having seen the faces of the tinkermen and the shaking of their heads, Gran did not ask about her daughter. Instead, she went to work on the boy, soothing his moans as she cut away the heavy, wet clothes from his body, easing them over the terribly twisted arm and leg. Young Gracelin, her mother's pet and favorite of her brother Sean, crept as close as she could without getting in the way. Granna tossed aside a sodden jacket sleeve and Grace snatched it up against her, the damp soaking through her thin nightshift.
Word swept down the lane, and the door opened and closed, rain blowing in with each neighbor come to see what could be done, their presence pushing further into the corner the tinkers who had rescued Sean; they waited uneasily, these men, standing close together, eyes lowered, battered hats held tightly in their fists.
"Get your da's bottle from the shelf and give it to them," Granna said without looking up from the wound she stitched above Sean's eye. "When it's gone, wet the tea. There's bread."
"Aye, Gran." Grace stood slowly against the stiffness in her legs.
"I'll help." Ryan was there beside her, giving her a hand up. Together they went through the crowd, seeing to the drink, not looking anyone in the eye but the tinkers, who lived closer to the spirit world and knew the way of things.
"He'll live," one said quietly to Grace as she filled his cup. He nodded to the corner behind where Sean lay. "'Twas your mam awaiting him just there in the shadows, but gone away now, she has."
Grace stared into the corner long and hard until it dissolved and she could see beyond to the other place. She moved as if to go there herself, but the tinker's hand fell upon her head and kept her still. He turned her gently away from the vision and looked into her eyes, slowly shaking his head from side to side, aware that a child not long out of Heaven might still remember the way back. He blessed her in his strange tongue and Grace listened, not taking her eyes from his face. When they understood one another, he slipped out the door with his fellows and disappeared without another word.
The bone-setter finally arrived, cursing such a wicked night as this. He looked over Granna's work with approval, then went about his own, first pouring a glass of whiskey down the boy's throat. There was a scream, and another, as he pulled the leg, snapping the thigh bone back into place. The leg was shattered beneath the knee, but by the time he began to straighten it, the boy had again lost consciousness. The bone-setter was old and used to sounds of suffering, but the screams that arose from the wee girl disturbed his soul, and he was grateful for the women who gathered her up in their arms and rocked her until sleep drew its blanket over her head.
Later, later, in the gray hour before dawn, as she lay on her pallet next to Granna, Grace opened her eyes and listened to the stillness of the spent storm. It came upon her then that her brother lived, but her mother was dead — most surely dead — and a terrible pain cinched her chest, crushing all breath. Blood began to roar in her ears, but through it she heard her mother's voice, singing as if high on the hill that rose behind their cabin. The air in the room evaporated, locking her heart in an exploding chest; around her swirled the dark waters of the River Lee, greedy for the daughter of an angel. The singing grew louder, came nearer, and then her mother's voice rode over the top of the others, shouting, "Breathe, Gracelin! Breathe!"
Grace's eyes flew open and she gasped, unable to fill her lungs quickly enough. She struggled and flailed, and then Granna was awake, snatching her up and holding her so close that one heartbeat encouraged the other, one long breath showed the way for the next. Slowly, the panic subsided and each sip of air cooled the burn in her chest. The singing voices grew thin and high and faint, and finally slipped away, her mother's among them.
When at last Grace grew still and her eyes began to close again, Granna eased her down beneath the blanket. There she lay, though not asleep, but waiting patiently as if the wind itself might pick her up and bear her away. All that anchored her was Granna's arm, wrapped tightly about her waist, and this is why, when she awoke, she found herself still in the world.
Kathleen O'Malley's wake was well attended, though the state of the body called for no viewing, so swollen from the river it was and hard to lay eyes upon. There were many in the neighborhood who had loved the young woman with her pretty singing, easy laugh, and bold eyes, and they came to comfort her old mother, her fine husband, Patrick, and their three children, the two sons and the wee daughter. Those who had known her best — Katty O'Dugan and Julia Ryan down the lane, Mary McDonagh from up the Black Hill — set to keening as soon as they saw the coffin. The wails rose from their lips and they rocked and swayed, clapping their hands and praising the dear girl who'd been taken from them. Every opening of the door brought in someone who raised the keen anew. It was many hours before the wailing eased, and everyone in the place found themselves with a full cup of Patrick's best Uisage batha — the water of life — and a fresh pipe. The room was warm and crowded, and men soon spilled out into the yard, where they started shaking their heads in the rhythm of sorrow, and storytelling in low, raspy voices. Women went in and out of the cabin with food, telling their own stories of children lost and mothers dead. They stayed the day, the night, and the next day until the coffin was buried high up on the hill and the O'Malleys closed their door to mourn their loss in private.
Grace could not look at Sean so white and motionless in his bed, could not comfort her father, who sat alone in the corner and wept and wept, could not erase the deep lines that had come into Granna's face, or ease the anger in Ryan's eyes. And she could not bear the hope that clung to her heart as she looked at her mother's chair and almost saw her sitting there, almost heard her laugh or the end of a song that still haunted the air. So she left the cabin — six years old and a half — and climbed the hill that rose up behind. There she wandered the field of daisies up and opened in sudden bloom, and when weariness came, she lay down among them and imagined Heaven, where she might close her eyes and rest her head forever against her mother's longed-for breast.
Sean was moved into the small room Patrick and Kathleen had shared, and there he lay in pain and fever for many days, moaning and calling out for his mother to hold on, he was coming, hold on. "Stay up, Mam!" he shouted again and again, until at last the delirium passed and he opened his eyes.
When he had swallowed some broth and could sit up for a short time, they gathered round his bed and waited for him to speak. Haltingly, he told them how the stone bridge across the swollen Lee had been slick with frosty rain, how the mule had lost foot and thrown the cart, pinning half of Sean's body beneath it on the edge of the bridge. He'd seen her in the churning current, fighting to stay afloat, her heavy skirts and boots weighing her down. She'd called to him, struggled against the frigid water as long as she could, and then she'd called out once more before slipping beneath the waves. He remembered nothing else, he said, tears running down transparent cheeks, until he'd awakened this day to Gran's gentle voice, telling him his mother was dead.
Patrick grew smaller and smaller as he listened to his son's words. He patted the boy's hand, then sighed and left the room, and the man Grace had always loved simply disappeared beneath the waves. He sang no more songs, told no tales of their ancestors, carried not even the smallest smile in his pocket. She was only near to him when she crawled into his lap and felt his warmth, breathed his smell of tobacco and earth. With her head upon his heart, she was certain that even its beat was weaker and more sorrowful than when her mother lived. She put his hand on the top of her head, hoping he'd stroke her hair as he'd always done, but it fell away into his lap, so lost had he become, and he'd say to her after a while, "Shush now, child, and be off with you."
She did not know this old man — her father had always been full of plan and action, like the great Chieftans of the West who sailed from Connaught. The greatest of them, Granuaile, daughter of Owen, had become the famed Pirate Queen, feared by the English and revered by her people, and Patrick had named Grace for her because, he said, at the moment of her birth, it was clear that the light of the sea shone in her eyes. Her father was directly descended from the O'Malleys in the North, who'd held a large estate, but lost it all with the defeat of James II at Boyne and the subsequent Penal Laws. These had destroyed the great old Catholic Irish families, her father said, forcing them to divide their lands until nothing was left, depriving the Catholic Irish of education and a voice in politics, refusing them government jobs and the right to maintain their religion. His forefathers had been Oak Boys and Ribbon Men, meeting in the foggy bogs to plot revenge, but they'd never regained all they'd lost, and the bitterness of that was in Patrick's voice each time he told these stories to his children.
What Grace could not know was that Patrick felt his nobility, and had suffered shame for his ragged, defeated parents, who drifted aimlessly from county to county, living in mean lodgings and scraping by on nothing. Their sudden deaths from typhus had left seven orphans, three of whom died soon after, the rest to be scattered by the local priest. There was no family to take Patrick in, and he spent three years in the workhouse at Dublin before running away at age ten. He lived in summer ditches, wintered in abandoned bothans, stole food from pigstyes, and wore rags tied to his feet. After one terrible winter of near starvation, he went back to the Brothers, who agreed to take him in as an indentured servant. He farmed during the day, sheared their sheep and spun their wool, cleaned their house, made their candles, and often stayed up at night to pray for their dead. He suffered beatings for his laziness and ingratitude if he fell asleep or asked for more food, and he was forced to pay heavy penance for wicked thoughts or lack of goodwill. The fasting, fatigue, and endless work had eaten away at mind and body, until his only strength was a small flame of rage, which he fanned in secret. Determined to be his own master, even if it meant sleeping with pigs and sharing their slop, he ran away again. Childhood had left him and he was a young man then, although his body was small and thin, yellow with hunger, and the scars across his back made others suspicious. He never entered a church again, and he kept his views about God to himself.
But Kathleen harbored a deep love of God and a need to worship Him with others of like mind. She was Protestant — great-granddaughter of a Scotsman on her dead father's side — and though she was nearly alone in a sea of Catholic countrymen, she saw no reason to let religion divide them. Patrick had allowed her to attend the Church at the Lake, with the understanding that it was not for him and she was not to ask. Granna did not like to travel so far from home in a day, Ryan was too much like his da to allow religious emotion into the order of his life, and Gracelin was yet too young. But Sean had always been happy for the chance to get out on long rides through the countryside, where he spoke to his mother of his dreams, the magnificence of Ireland, and the wonder of God. They would begin early on a Sunday, before the sun was up, harnessing the donkey to the rough wooden cart and setting out with a dinner pail of warm porridge and Saturday's bread. They followed the winding path of the Lee through Inchigeelagh, past the rippling waters of Lough Allua, crossing the river at Ballingeary, and heading toward the Shehy Mountains until they reached the small stone chapel that sat on the shores of Gougenebarra Lake, the source of the Lee. It was a tiring journey and they would not return home before nightfall except in the long days of summer, so they never went more than thrice in any season, and that was plenty even then, according to Patrick.
In the months after Kathleen's death, Patrick sat on a stool outside the cabin each evening, smoking his clay pipe and thinking about his wife. She'd given up her whole way of life for him, and what had he given her besides children and the occasional day at church? When they'd married, he'd hardly a penny to his name, just dreams and plans. She'd given up the family bakery in Cork, which she'd run with Granna, and used part of the money to lease land in Macroom, buy seed, a plow horse, tools — a start. He'd promised to make it all up to her once the farm prospered, and he never thought about the life she was leading as the wife of a struggling farmer instead of the successful business owner she easily could've been. He carried the guilt of it now like a stone in his heart, along with a grief that never eased. Now that he alone shouldered the burden of their children's future, he saw how heavy it was, and he was afraid for all he'd leaned on her. He'd depended on her too much — for advice and encouragement, for comfort, for love. With dull eyes and a heavy spirit, he knew he had reverted to the bitter man he'd been until the lucky day he'd met Kathleen Dougherty, and he grieved not only for the loss of her, but for the loss of himself, as well.
On the nights when Patrick sat outside on the hill with the sheep, brooding and smoking his pipe, Granna tried to lift the heaviness of the house by telling the children stories of their mother.
"She was a true Irish beauty." This was how she always began, in Irish, her eyes moist with memory. "Skin the color of cream, a high bloom in the cheek, hair darkest red and curling with pleasure ... and her eyes, arrah, her eyes — blue gray like a thundering sea. You, Grace," she'd add, smiling fondly at the little girl near her feet, "you have your mother's eyes." Here, she'd always sigh. Then, "And wasn't she always singing, even as a wee girleen? And coming out with such funny things about the neighbor folk? So bold she was, and full of life! Your da loved her the very minute he set eyes on her."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Gracelin O'Malley Trilogy"
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Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Table of Contents
'TIL MORNING LIGHT,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Greatest trip through history of family and their travel . America's birth. Couldn't put down,kept reading till my eyes closed at night. Felt l was on the journey with them.
Loved the story
I loved every page of this trilogy. Being a SULLIVAN, I have always been enamored with Irish history, especially the famine years. This story is historic, I looked up when Silent Night and Yankee Doodle Dandy were written, emotional, what a great love story, and gripping, telling the story of the trials and triumphs of the Irish spirit. On my nook, will read it again in a few years, that good!
I loved that i was so drawn into the lives of Grace, Sean, Morgan and all the rest. I can't remember when I cried so much when reading some happy tears some sad. Thank you for all your hard work in writing this book.
As being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for many years I did take objection to some of the comments made regarding the church however I loved the history of. Ireland and this beautiful love story! I found it very hard to put down and due to my retirement was able to finish the trilogy in four days! Wasn’t aware of all the tragedy and losses the experienced. My husband being second generation from Ireland knew most the history from his grandparents , O Searcy and McGuire. Gave us wonderful dinner conversation! Job well done. Thanks for a great read!!