If anything this is a story of survival and it is one engrossing story to boot. Fiona endures so much in the book that you wonder how she could possibly keep going, but she does. I absolutely loved the characters in the book and the way in which the story was written. Fiona, Joe, Nicholas, Seamus, Uncle Michael, Mary...I could go on, I loved them all. The story had its flaws but I easily forgave them. One of my few complaints was that there were parts that were not drawn out enough while some were drawn out too much. But I would have gladly taken an additional hundred or more pages just to be immersed in their lives even further. Situations that I would love to have been more thoroughly covered included:Fiona and Joe's lives growing up together, why was their love so strong? Fiona's trip across the ocean with Nick and how their friendship grew. More information on the ten years essentially skipped in the book. And, perhaps most importantly, more details regarding the reunion of Fiona and Joe and their subsequent wedding and how it all worked out in the U.S.. How I would love at the very least a short story about that!
My minor complaints include the Jack the Ripper storyline, I felt it was largely unnecessary. I also thought that there were moments which were just *too* perfect, such as Fiona encountering Nick and his subsequent help, but I forgave such things. But one thing that truly drove me insane was the Fiona/Joe travails near the end of the book. My god how many near-encounters can two people have? It drove me insane! And then you add in family members who think they are trying to protect you but really they are just interfering by not letting you know a person was there to see you. This plot device really gets my blood boiling, it always has. I realize people do this in real life too and that just sends me to another level of anger! Let them decide for themselves! Stop interfering! Sure Fiona and Joe eventually have a chance meeting but what if they hadn't? I realize it is a book but it is so frustrating! Oh if only Joe had seen Fiona before she had to marry Nick. *sigh* Yes it would have resulted in a different book but you can't help but be frustrated. Poor Fiona, poor Joe.
And I absolutely could not stand Millie. Argh, women like her make me raving mad. Moments in the book thoroughly frustrated me, but others were heartwarming and heartbreaking and overall I would say a book that makes you feel such strong emotions towards it is clearly worthy of a read.
This is definitely one of those books where I miss the characters after I finish reading. I cannot wait to read books 2 and 3 of the trilogy and only hope the characters I loved in this one do not disappear altogether. This will be one of few books I will re-read in the future.