What Amazon says
Ireland is no promised land in 1846. It is wracked by a crippling potato blight, and people are dying. But Valentia McDowell doesn’t know that.
From her father’s prosperous farm in Ohio, young Valentia is haunted by tales of an abandoned family and a lost heirloom. She travels to her grandmother’s homeland with her brother, Conor, and two servants, to find both. Her delight in the exciting journey on one of the first steam ships to cross the Atlantic is shattered by a horrible tragedy.
What she encounters upon her arrival in Ireland is both more and less than she had hoped. Valentia finds both enemies and allies, amid horrors and delights, and a small bit of magic. She finds a richer heritage than she had ever imagined, but it comes with a price.
When she finally reaches her goal, a terrible price is demanded. She must pay or forfeit, and both decisions have strong consequences for her and her friends.
This book, set in America and then in Ireland in 1846, is well researched and interesting from a historical setting perspective.
The main character, Valentia, embarks on a journey from her birth home in America to her ancestral homeland in Ireland. Valentia is determine to find her Irish family, the sisters of her grandmother who immigrated to America when she was young, and a brooch that her grandmother had left behind in Ireland. She sets off on her travels with her younger brother, Conor, and both of their servants and helpers. Illness strikes during their crossing of the ocean on board a ship and both Conor and his male attendant die and are buried at sea. Valentia, who has also been nearly fatally ill, and her maid, Maggie, are left to carry on alone.
Legacy of Hunger is the story of Valentia’s experiences in Ireland, starting with her convalescing at a health spa and continuing through her travels around Ireland in search of her family at a time when the land was in the grip of chronic famine. I enjoyed the history included in this story and learned a lot of information that I did not previously know about Ireland during the famine. It was heartbreaking reading about the indifference of the English landlords at this time of significant hardship for the local people.
The development of Valentia’s character as she experiences illness, hardship, romance an attempted rape is well done and I enjoyed her story although I did wonder whether some of her attitudes, thoughts and behaviours were feasible, given the time period and her sex and wealthy upbringing. The ending of the book was a bit of a let down for me and was not what I expected. The author introduced a lot of supernatural phenomena and paranormal experiences which, although these topics had been introduced to some extent earlier in the book, felt a bit out of context for me. I would have preferred the book to have remained firmly on the historical novel path and any folklore and supernatural myths and tales to have been incorporated in the context of stories told by the locals.
I rated this book 3.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.