Book Reviews of Star of the Sea

Star of the Sea
Star of the Sea
Author: Joseph O'Connor
ISBN-13: 9780156029667
ISBN-10: 0156029669
Publication Date: 3/8/2004
Pages: 432
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 50

3.4 stars, based on 50 ratings
Publisher: Harvest Books
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

12 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Star of the Sea on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A good mystery and, confined to a trans-Atlantic ship, some very good tension. Once again, the main character is troubled and not always likeable but you can relate to the tough spot he finds himself in.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a great fast moving mystery. My daughter recommended it, very good historical fiction.
reviewed Star of the Sea on
Excellent read. All the human frailities, vices, and virtues entangled in this story of a killer and a Lord.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 2 more book reviews
Wonderful writing; suspenseful story; insightful look at the Potato Famine and the hardships endured by those traveling to America.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 907 more book reviews
Excellent read, suspense, tragedy, tension, and murder. Great historical. Fast moving and well written. I liked the maid--even though she had gotten herself into a sticky mess of devastating secrets.I also liked that this story took place on the ocean and i loved the era and history, with hundreds of refugees on board you can almost hear them talking and see them pondering what is to happen. I could hear the ladies skirts swishing the deck floor and feel the ship rocking, smell the tension in the air and waiting to see who is going to make it to the end of the journey with their reputation or even life still intact really was suspensfull.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 242 more book reviews
Fascinatingly compelling tale of intertwined lives and social classes at the time of the Irish potato famine. The resolution is not in who dunnit, but in how the characters have affected each other and the consequences of their actions. I was inexorably drawn into the period and the people: a mystery, a love story, an immigrant sea crossing, all of these and more. Not a sunny story - the gritty realism of famine and steerage travel - but you will understand the time more than any history book could tell you when you have read it. Well written, full of the colors of history, people and language: highly recommended.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 899 more book reviews
Not a mystery I would recommend. While there are flashes of well written prose, particularly regarding Pius Mulvey, the novel is often disjointed. Just when I thought the author was hitting his stride I would find myself asking what's this? I felt that the author couldn't decide what was important to share with the reader. I skimmed the last chapters. The book does do a fair task of informing the reader about what it must have been like to travel from Ireland to New York in a overcrowded ship and the emotions that break out as a result. Enough said!
reviewed Star of the Sea on
Difficult to follow because it jumped around. Someone interested in boats would probably like this book. I did enjoy the history of the potato famine in Ireland.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 8 more book reviews
This was my daughters book..gripping murder mystery
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 87 more book reviews
I haven't done much these last few days because I've been so totally engrossed in this larger than life novel set aboard a sailing vessel in 1847 at the height of Ireland's potato famine. Rich in period detail, multi-dimensional characters, historical fact and vivid descriptions of what life was like for thousands of poor who were forced off their land because there was no money to pay their landlords, the novel moves back and forth from small villages along Ireland's western coast, to the brothels and slums of London, to the posh first class cabins and crowded and disease ridden steerage section of the "Star of the Sea" on its 28 day journey across the Atlantic to New York.

O'Connor is a masterful writer who uses multiple voices to tell a story that's hard to put down. He uses a variety of narrative forms, including the captain's log, diary entries, newspaper clippings, letters, songs, and personal narratives, pulling everything together by making it a story within a story written years later by one of the characters in the novel.

On one level the book is a mystery, since we know from the outset that one of the steerage passengers, Pius Mulvey, has a mandate to kill first class passenger Lord David Merridith, the landlord responsible for evicting thousands of starving tenants from his estates. It's definitely a page turner because of the way the plot unfolds, weaving together intriguing back stories for each of the major characters who we get to know quite well by the end of the voyage.

O'Connor himself is from Ireland and writes about the rugged coastal landscape as only someone who is familiar with it can do. And it's clear that he has carefully researched the period in order to paint such a vivid picture of the horrors that took place there during the mid-19th century. All this is especially interesting to me, not only because we've been to Ireland several times but also because Denny's relatives left there in 1848 on a ship very much like the "Star of the Sea" and under the same circumstances as those depicted in the novel. Most likely Darby and Johanna O'Dea, were also steerage passengers who had to endure the unimaginable conditions that O'Connor has written about so compellingly. So I thought of them frequently while I was reading this unforgettable novel, I also tracked down the author's website where he has written a fascinating account of how he came to write the novel (http://www.josephoconnorauthor.com/for-book-clubs-star-of-the-sea.html) And I understand that he has also written another book that takes place 18 years after "the Star of the Sea" docked in New York. It's called Redemption Falls and I've already added it to my list.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 66 more book reviews
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by famine and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for the New World. On board are hundreds of refugees. Among them are a maid with a devastating secret, the bankrupt Lord Merridith and his wife and children, and a killer who stalks the decks in search of vengeance.
reviewed Star of the Sea on + 21 more book reviews
In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by famine and injustice, the Star of the Sea sets sail for the New World. On board are hundreds of refugees. Among them are a maid with a devastating secret, the bankrupt Lord Merridith and his wife and children, and a killer who stalks the decks in search of vengeance.

This journey will see many lives end, while others begin anew. In this spellbinding tale of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the farther the ship sails toward the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past that will never let them go.