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

( 16 )

Overview

Long before "The Perfect Storm," the 1935 August Gale roared northeast. The surf raged along the New York and New Jersey shores as the gale whirled toward Newfoundland. Waves as tall as three-story houses swamped ships; monster combers broke masts in two and swept every man on deck into the raging sea. Scores of fishermen disappeared when the "divil" descended on that August evening, and one Newfoundland village would never be the same. Forty-two children in a community of ...

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August Gale

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Overview

Long before "The Perfect Storm," the 1935 August Gale roared northeast. The surf raged along the New York and New Jersey shores as the gale whirled toward Newfoundland. Waves as tall as three-story houses swamped ships; monster combers broke masts in two and swept every man on deck into the raging sea. Scores of fishermen disappeared when the "divil" descended on that August evening, and one Newfoundland village would never be the same. Forty-two children in a community of three hundred lost their fathers.

In August Gale, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Barbara Walsh takes readers 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.

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Editorial Reviews

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 haunting
journey 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.
 
 
 
 

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762784905
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 461,943
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (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. 

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Table of Contents

Preface viii

Walsh Family Tree x

Chapter 1 A Sudden Wind-Brooklyn, August 1935 1

Chapter 2 Lured by the Gale-Maine, February 2002 6

Chapter 3 The King of Marystown- Newfoundland, 1935 11

Chapter 4 The Family Storm Unravels- New Hampshire, 2002 23

Chapter 5 "Tis Nothing but Worry and Waiting"- Marystown, August 1935 30

Chapter 6 Victory Ships and a San Francisco Tempest- My parents' kitchen, April 2003 40

Chapter 7 Gathering a Crew-Marystown, August 1935 52

Chapter 8 The Sisters Gather-Newburyport, Mass., May 2003 67

Chapter 9 Father McGettigan's Torment- Marystown, late August 1935 76

Chapter 10 Pictures of the Past-Maine, June 2003 84

Chapter 11 A Premonition and a Dark Cloud- Marystown, August 1935 89

Chapter 12 Heading into the Storm-Newfoundland, June 2003 98

Chapter 13 Mustering Courage on Board Annie Anita and Mary Bernice-August 21,1935 104

Chapter 14 "Welcome Home"-Marystown, June 2003 110

Chapter 15 The Tempest Roars North-North Atlantic, 1935 117

Chapter 16 Chasing Ancestors-Marystown, June 2003 124

Chapter 17 "There's a Divil Corning!"-Newfoundland Fishing Grounds, August 1935 129

Chapter 18 Mountainous Waves and Mighty Men- Marystown, 2003 139

Chapter 19 Prayers and Apparitions-Marystown, August 1935 145

Chapter 20 "My Poor Daddy Was Lost"-Marystown, 2003 151

Chapter 21 Shipwrecked Schooners and Bodies Swallowed by the Sea-Newfoundland, 1935 158

Chapter 22 "The Whole Town Just Stumbled into Shock"- Marystown, 2003 165

Chapter 23 McGettigan's Grim Task-Marystown, August 1935 170

Chapter 24 A Final Voyage-Marystown, 2003 177

Chapter 25 '"Tis the Queerest Wake"-Marystown, 1935 182

Chapter 26 Ambrose Continues to Haunt-Marystown, 2003 193

Chapter 27 Digging Up the Grave-Marystown, 1935 197

Chapter 28 Graveyards and Redemption- Marystown, June 2003 206

Chapter 29 The Storm Still Lingers-Marystown, 1935 211

Chapter 30 August Thunder and Ambrose's Daughters- New Hampshire, August 2003 218

Chapter 31 "Left in a Dreamland"-Newfoundland, 1935-2005 226

Chapter 32 One Last Journey-Brooklyn and Staten Island, October 2006 236

Acknowledgments 248

Glossary of Newfoundland and Nautical Terms 252

August Gale Storm Track 256

Where Paddy and James Sailed 257

Houses of Fishermen Who Died in the Storm 258

The Walsh Tragedy Song 259

About the Author 261

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 5, 2013

    As a children¿s author and illustrator, I have been trained to w

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2013

    I have finished reading August Gale and was genuinely moved by

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    ...you are there...

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    Great read

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2014

    Being from New England, I enjoyed reading this local authors ble

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2013

    There are two stories: 1 a non-fiction memoir of a family in sea

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    A wonderful family story as well as the story of a real event

    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!

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    A compelling story masterfully told. I couldn't put it down. You

    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.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Great book

    Very interesting story that goes back and forth between the present day and 1935 Well worth reading

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  • Posted December 20, 2011

    Wonderful personal story of the Newfoundland storm of 1935

    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.

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    Incredible storytelling

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    One of the best books ever written!

    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.

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  • Posted November 30, 2011

    Great for lovers of historically based fiction or seafaring life.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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