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August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm

August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm

4.3 16
by Barbara Walsh

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An award-winning journalist’s voyage into her family history and her quest to face the storms she encounters there


In August Gale, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Barbara Walsh—who has interviewed killers, bad cops, and crooked politicians in the course of her career—faces the most challenging story of her lifetime


An award-winning journalist’s voyage into her family history and her quest to face the storms she encounters there


In August Gale, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Barbara Walsh—who has interviewed killers, bad cops, and crooked politicians in the course of her career—faces the most challenging story of her lifetime: asking her father about his childhood pain. In the process, she takes us on two heartrending odysseys: one into a deadly Newfoundland hurricane and the lives of schooner fishermen who relied on God and the wind to carry them home; the other, into a squall stirred by a man with many secrets: a grandfather who remained a mystery until long after his death.


Sixty-eight years after the hurricane that claimed several of her ancestors, Walsh searches for memories of the August gale and the grandfather who abandoned her dad as a young boy. Together, she and her father journey to Newfoundland to learn about the 1935 storm, and along the way her dad begins to talk about the man he cannot forgive. As she recreates the scenes of the violent hurricane and a small boy's tender past, she holds onto a hidden desire: to heal her father and redeem the grandfather she has never met.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Walsh (Sammy in the Sky, 2011) explores the ties that bound her own family despite death and desertion.

The author writes about the almost mythic heroism of her ancestors, tough, hard-drinking fishermen who had emigrated from Ireland to Marystown, Newfoundland. They battled fierce storms to put food on the table for their families and looked out for each other in this small community where most of the people who lived there were related. The author begins in August 1935, with the birth of her father in Brooklyn—her grandfather had come to the United States a decade earlier—which coincided with the death of more than 40 Marystown fisherman in a devastating hurricane. This is a complex tale that began for the author in 2002, when her father suggested that she write about the storm and revealed secrets about his own family history that he had found too painful to discuss before. When he was 11 years old, her father had abandoned his family, leaving his mother in dire poverty with two children to raise alone. The author learned that along with five sisters, she had American cousins whom she'd never met, and others living in Newfoundland. Walsh uses her journalistic skills to re-create the life of the Newfoundland fishing community before the gale; she recounts events during the storm and the struggle of the women and children who survived the tragedy. She and her father establish contact with his father's half-siblings and their relatives in Marystown, and she recognizes physical traits and mannerisms they hold in common. The eponymous storm provides the thread that holds the story together and serves as a metaphor for her father's stormy childhood.

A celebration of traditional family values and reconciliation.

From the Publisher
"A celebration of traditional family values and reconciliation."—Kirkus Reviews"Like The Perfect Storm, Barbara Walsh's book vividly captures the fishermen who fought for their lives in an unforgiving sea. Her quest to redeem and understand her grandfather is a powerful story that will resonate with fathers, daughters and sons. August Gale is a hauntingjourney that readers will long remember." – Kate Braestrup, New York Times bestselling author of Here If You Need Me."A wonderfully written tale of the sea and a far flung village of people surviving on the edge of the world, Barbara Walsh has plucked a historical event out of time and filled it with an emotional breadth rarely found in documentary or memoir writing." – Jonathon King, Edgar Award-winning mystery author."Barbara Walsh's lyrical story of her father and their journey into the tempest is gripping, heartwarming - and memorable. A terrific read." – Jackie MacMullan, former Sports Illustrated and Boston Globe writer and author of Magic and Bird: Basketball's Awed Couple.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Walsh is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and magazine columnist who has chased many stories during her career; her work has changed laws, lives, and affected the 1988 presidential election. She is also the author of Sammy in the Sky, a children’s book illustrated by painter Jamie Wyeth. Barbara lives in Maine with her two daughters, husband, and a Tennessee coonhound.

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August Gale: A Father and Daughter's Journey into the Storm 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
JanuaryMoon More than 1 year ago
As a children’s author and illustrator, I have been trained to write with vision and to tell a story without words. Barbara Walsh has taken verbal visualization to new heights. I have read August Gale twice and am about to read it again. Rarely have I read such a well written book that makes me want to relive the story over and over. I not only got involved with the characters but I lived the gale, fought against the waves and wanted to comfort and save Frankie from his fate. I felt the angst of the families left behind and the conflict of Walsh’s father as he began the apprehensive journey to learn about his family. The balance between past and present is extremely well done. The premonitions’ experienced by the fishermen and their families and the appearance of lost souls made this reader weep with sorrow. Walsh deserves every accolade available for this touching, true chronicle.
DLSE More than 1 year ago
I have finished reading August Gale and was genuinely moved by the story. I was brought to tears as I witnessed the loss and renewal through Ms Walsh's words. I have recommended the book to more than one person as it is a saga where readers can identify on more than one level - human loss at sea or losing anyone you love, the loss of family ties for whatever reason, and the hope of reunion and healing. Thank you for your gift, Ms. Walsh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good blend of then and now stories. Segments were not too long, not too short...just right in length. (Though reading on a Nook meant the family tree was not negotiable - that's my bad and Nook's, not Ms. Walsh's.) I've seen the Fisherman's Memorial in Gloucester, Massachusetts many times, but this story takes a reader into the boats, using the words of survivors and the families of the lost to paint pictures in the mind, and making us miss the victims as if they were our own. Well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highyl recommend this book - the book was very well written and had a very interesting story to it. I had a hard time putting it down. The author very skillfully wove together the past and present to make for an interesting story.
Grizzlyanna More than 1 year ago
Being from New England, I enjoyed reading this local authors blended story.  Not even a quarter way through the book I felt so drawn in to the book. It was so well written, a book my five senses enjoyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are two stories: 1 a non-fiction memoir of a family in search of truth, and 1 a historical novel that is way too long for its own good and is occupied with way too much hand-wringing. Within a few chapters I decided to skip the novel and just read the memoir. It had about as much material in it for a full-page Sunday newspaper feature story. I heard the author on BookTV and found the talk enticing; I'm sorry the book didn't live up to my expectations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Barbara Walsh does an excellent job of telling the story of the 1935 August gale that struck Nova Scotia. In addition, it is her father's story of coming to terms with his father's abandonment of his family.When she decides to write this book, her father is the one who says, " maybe we can find some of the family". Great book!
hwaters More than 1 year ago
A compelling story masterfully told. I couldn't put it down. You aren the boats with the fishermen and waiting on the shore with the wives and children. The tension is maintained from beginning to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting story that goes back and forth between the present day and 1935 Well worth reading
charltake More than 1 year ago
In searching for her family history, the author uncovered an unbelievable tale of heroism, conflict and adventure. The story is stunningly personal for her and her father and leads her to resolve a life of secrecy and hurt and gains them a brand new family in Newfoundland. The story is written with the historical storm off the coast of Newfoundland in 1935 intertwined with personal current day emotions about a family separated by a father and grandfather who abandoned his wife and children. This is a great book, a true story told from the heart, that you will not be able to put down until the end.
JamesHSmith More than 1 year ago
Barbara Walsh¿s story could have easily devolved into personal angst and pablum, but it never does. She makes her family connection enhance the tale rather than bogging it down. The back and forth structure between the present and 1935 is hard to do, to carry off, to make work, but it does. And it keeps up the suspense. You know what is going to happen, yet this reader keeps turning the page. Walsh brings to life, life in that tiny village on the sea; the characters, their words, their movements in their small world -- and she chronicles with empathy the sad, sad deaths of far too many from that tightly-knit world. The scene of Tom Reid and Frankie Walsh on the schooner in the hurricane takes your breath away. Paddy Walsh, Ambrose Walsh, the priest, the wives of the fishermen are such memorable characters, right out of a novel. The tugging subplot of the author¿s father's struggle with his father is a transcontinental tragedy that is a story in itself, but is seamlessly woven it into the larger story of the whole clan centered in a Canadian fishing village. Always there is the tug and pull of her father's state of mind, displayed by himself and explained through the feelings and tender observations of his daughters. It's just incredibly marvelous storytelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The most interesting book I have ever read, very factual. A true story told in great detail and definitely the making of a great movie equal to the Perfect Storm.
TallPyne_ME More than 1 year ago
This is an outstanding book. Barbara Walsh has very skillfully meshed three related stories. First is that of the catastrophic 1935 gale that took the lives of 40 Newfoundland fishermen including her great-uncle "Paddy" Walsh and several of her cousins, second is the story of her grandfather Ambrose Walsh who had emigrated to NY from Newfoundland to start and later abandon his own family and third, the effect that Ambrose's actions had on her dad, Ronald and her uncle William Patrick (the namesake of the drowned fisherman) and their mother. The book alternates between the three story lines in the context of and the author's trip, accompanied by her dad, to Marystown, Newfoundland during which she unraveled the story of the gale and she and her dad came to know their relatives. All the story lines and the Marystown trip are well written and compelling. Even better they are seamlessly woven together. Walsh is particularly strong on the human cost of these tragedies. Her descriptions of the grief of the women and children over the loss of their fathers, husbands and brothers and their plight in the following winter is especially poignant. The images she describes are haunting. Equally well done is her writing about the effects of Ambrose's abandonment on Ambrose's wife and well as on the author's dad and uncle. I simply can't recommend this highly enough to those who love historically based fiction or stories of seafaring life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago