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The Keeners [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Keeners by Maura D. Shaw...

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.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   278
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2005
Publisher   Medallion Press
ISBN  1932815155  
ISBN13  9781932815153  

Availability  0 units.

More About Maura D. Shaw

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Maura D. Shaw is the author of several books for young readers, including the award-winning Ten Amazing People: And How They Changed the World, the historical novel Owl's Journey, and Gandhi: India's Great Soul. Her nondenominational handbook of Earth-honoring activities for parents and children, Celebrating the Great Mother, is popular with families and groups.

Maura D. Shaw currently resides in Wappingers Falls, in the state of New York.

Maura D. Shaw has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Spiritual Biographies for Young Readers

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Family Saga
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical

Reviews - What do customers think about The Keeners?

Deserves 4 1/2 stars  Apr 18, 2005
Seventeen-year-old Margaret Meehan can only reminisce about the contented and peaceful life of her childhood in County Clare. But it is 1846 and now she must cope with the harsh realities of the Irish Famine. While potato crops turn to blighted foul slush in the fields, Margaret studies the vocation of being a keener - one who takes on the burden of grieving for the dead - under the tutelage of the aged Nuala Lynch. Margaret learns her duties quickly. It seems death has touched each family, some several times, in her once idyllic home in Ireland.

There is a bright spot in Margaret's life, however. She knows she will have a future with the handsome Tom Riordan. But the devastation surrounding the two leaves no one untouched and Tom is declared a wanted criminal. Their only escape from the horrific life they are experiencing is to take a ship to America and leave their beloved Ireland behind. The voyage to the land of promise is hellish, but once they reach Troy, New York, things start looking brighter.

Well-researched facts, likeable characters and a compelling story are told between the covers of The Keeners. Competently written, Shaw writes a moving story that takes the reader through the heartaches and joys and the decay and resurrection experienced by the Irish during a time of revolution and turmoil.

With detailed attention to historical accuracy & background  Mar 18, 2005
In 1846, the rough beauty of County Clare is 17-year-old Margaret Meehan's whole world -- and it is nearly perfect. Margaret's 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. Margaret has found her calling and is apprenticed to the old keener Nuala Lynch. Together they keen for the dead, waling the grief and pain of the bereaved in hopes of healing their sorrow. Margaret's life is full of hope and purpose. Then the potato blight returns. Harvests rot overnight, people are dying, Ireland is dying. Margaret finds that she cannot keen for an entire country. Leaving her decimated family, the tragic Kitty, and the death of her dreams, Margaret flees with her husband (who has become a wanted man) to America. There she finds the heart and soul of Ireland in the community of Irish immigrants, as well as her destiny as the voice of a keener. Author Maura Shaw writes a superbly chronicled story with detailed attention to historical accuracy and background. The Keeners is a deftly woven tale populated with memorably drawn characters and an engaging drama that grips the readers total attention from beginning to end. Highly recommended reading.
fabulous mid nineteenth century historical   Mar 5, 2005
In 1846 County Clare, Ireland, seventeen-year-old Margaret Meehan thinks the world is terrific as her family farm has always done well growing potatoes and she anticipates marrying Tom Riordan. Adding to her belief that all is right in her orbit is that she is also apprenticed to the elderly keener Nuala Lynch as they provide solace to those grieving the loss of a loved one.

However, her idyllic life collapses as the potato famine begins with people dying throughout the devastated country. Unable to cope with so much death and demand on the keeners and with her spouse condemned as a criminal, Margaret and Tom flee to Troy, New York, where many Irish have immigrated to start anew. Here Margaret finds her expatriate countrymen in need of a Keener, but can she use her gift after watching her family, friends, and nation die?

THE KEENERS is a superb historical tale that brings to life the blight of the Irish when the crops failed in 1846 and many fled to a new world to begin again. The key to Maura D. Shaw's tale is the historical perspective that comes across with depth whether Margaret struggles with the nightmare of Ireland or the new optimistic beginnings in Troy. Margaret is a terrific center holding the novel together as she never forgets her roots, but wonders if she can return to keening after being overwhelmed with so much death as she suffers from a form of battle fatigue syndrome yet knows she is needed. This is a fabulous mid nineteenth century story that historical fans will cherish.

Harriet Klausner
A story rich in history and steeped in tradition  Mar 5, 2005
Maura D. Shaw gives readers a story rich in history and steeped in tradition in her new novel "The Keeners" from Medallion Press.

All is blooming in County Clare, Ireland in the spring of 1846, including seventeen-year-old Margaret Meehan. She is sure the heart of handsome rebel Tom Roidan is hers and he will soon take her hand. When not practicing the ancient art of the Keeners, singing and chanting songs of lament for the dead with Nuala Lynch, Margaret dreams and plans with her best friend, Kitty Dooley, of a cottage across the road from each other and their children playing in the lane.

But it is 1846, the year of the blight. The potato blight and famine will soon shatter her dreams. The devastation has her keening daily for friends, family, strangers, and her beloved County Clare.

Most of her family is gone. Kitty is a broken shell. Nuala has keened her last lament. Tom's Rebel activities have made him a wanted man. It's to America for Margaret Meehan. She flees with Tom to Troy New York. With a heart that keens for County Clare and a young girl's dreams, she will carve a new life in a strange land with the man she loves.

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.

An Amazing Historical Novel!!!  Dec 7, 2004
This is was an amazing historical read that was both moving and entertaining. This story was epic in nature and truly a wonderful addition to the historical fiction genre.

One of the problems with historical fiction is that authors seem to be in such a hurry to tell their story that they only outline the historical significance and than move on to whatever story the plan to tell. Ms. Shaw is the exception to the rule. She has taken great care and paid attention to details when describing the trials and tribulations of the Irish during the potato famine that took place in 1846-47. She also took the same amount of care when she wrote about Margaret's new life in America working toward better working conditions and struggling in a new country where old customs have no place. As a result the reader has no problem seeing, smelling, hearing, and most importantly feels the pain and despair, and triumphs of our heroine Margaret Meehan Riordan. She is strong and never gives up. She buries both family and friends, and watches what is left of her precious Ireland starve and die. With her love Tom by her side she forges a new life for herself in America. Never loosing sight of who she is or where she came from.

This amazing read which 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.

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