This sprawling historical novel tells the story of the passengers onboard the Star of the Sea , a ship sailing from Ireland to New York during the brutal winter of 1847. Fleeing the potato famine in Ireland, hundreds of starving refugees crowd the vessel hoping for better lives in America. The unforgettable cast of characters includes Lord Merridith and his family, their nanny Mary a former prostitute with a dark past and American journalist Grantley Dixon, who has an affair with Lady Merridith. The novel is shaped as a work of reportage executed by Dixon, and it's presented newspaper-style, with interviews from passengers and crew members. O'Connor's eye for detail and knowledge of the period make this a wonderfully realistic account of immigrants caught between the past and the present. A reading group guide is included in the book.