The rough beauty of County Clare is seventeen-year-old Margaret Meehan's whole world, and it is nearly perfect. Her family is well and thriving, farming Ireland's staple crop. She expects to marry handsome Tom Riordan, raise their children, and live in a cottage across the lane from her best friend, Kitty Dooley. She has found her calling and is apprenticed to the old keener Nuala Lynch. Together they keen for the dead, wailing the grief and pain of the bereaved in hopes of healing their sorrow. Margaret's life is full of hope, full of purpose.
But the year is 1846. The potato blight has returned. Pitiful harvests rot overnight and the people are dying. Ireland is dying. And Margaret cannot keen for an entire country.
Out of devastation, Margaret Meehan's tale begins. Leaving her decimated family, the tragic Kitty, and the death of dreams behind, she flees with her husband, now a wanted man, to America. In Troy, New York, where pig iron, starched collars, and union banners herald the success of Irish immigrants, Margaret discovers something even more precious than a new life and modest prosperity. She finds the heart and soul of Ireland.
And she finds it in the voice of . . . The Keeners . . .
Hardcover: 278 pages
Publisher: Medallion Press (2005)
Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.0 inches
Maura's new adult historical novel for Medallion Press, The Keeners, brings together her enthusiasm for Irish and American history and her belief in the healing power of love. Despite its beginning in the tragedy of the Irish Famine of the 1840s, the story is one of hope and survival, romance and rebellion, as a young woman named Margaret Meehan keens for the dead in County Clare in Ireland and celebrates life in a community of Irish immigrants in Troy, New York.
"Maura D. Shaw's The Keeners knows the Irish of An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) from the inside out. It's a heartrending story of people robbed even of the catharsis of their grief as they set aside their ancient, healing keens to become new Americans. Margaret Meehan is its heart and soul, answering grief and injustices with relentless optimism, courage, and humor. This lyrical novel performs that rare achievement-it breaks your heart, then mends it stronger."
--Eileen Charbonneau, award-winning author of Rachel LeMoyne
"Maura D. Shaw writes a powerful novel that could move even a stone to tears. The courageous story of Margaret Meehan and her struggles for survival isn't an unfamiliar one to lovers of Irish history, but it is told in such a way that we feel as though we are fighting right along with her. For this daughter of Ireland, The Keeners is a book that will stick with me for a long, long, time to come."
--Cat Cody, RomanceJunkies.com
"A gifted storyteller with a mastery of language writes a tightly paced story, and Maura D. Shaw is such a storyteller. Her knowledge of Ireland and its history, her empathy with a people she is connected to through her great grandmother, add a depth to this story that pulled me in to feel the hunger, pain, loss, fear, love, strength, and courage that take Margaret from the shores of Ireland to a new home and a new life. She captures the devastation of a land and its people through the eyes of characters that tug at the heartstrings and tie them into a forget-me-not bow. The Keeners is a bookshelf keeper. A book, a story, you will want to read again, from a talented author who respects her craft and cares about her readers and her subject."
--Charlene Austin, Writing Road Newsletter
"This amazing read left me both laughing and cheering. The reader will feel truly invested with Margaret and her Tommy and I can truly say I was sad when I came to the end and had to say goodbye. I hope that there is another story in the works of this amazing family. I highly recommend this read and suggest if you are a fan of a well-written historical novel look no further."
--Amazon.com Top 500 reviewer