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The Crooked Branch: A Novel

The Crooked Branch: A Novel

5.0 2
by Jeanine Cummins

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From the national bestselling and highly acclaimed author of The Outside Boy comes the deeply moving story of two mothers—witty, self-deprecating Majella, who is shocked by her entry into motherhood in modern-day New York, and her ancestor, tough and terrified Ginny Doyle, whose battles are more fundamental: she must keep her young family alive during


From the national bestselling and highly acclaimed author of The Outside Boy comes the deeply moving story of two mothers—witty, self-deprecating Majella, who is shocked by her entry into motherhood in modern-day New York, and her ancestor, tough and terrified Ginny Doyle, whose battles are more fundamental: she must keep her young family alive during Ireland’s Great Famine.

After the birth of her daughter Emma, the usually resilient Majella finds herself feeling isolated and exhausted. Then, at her childhood home in Queens, Majella discovers the diary of her maternal ancestor Ginny—and is shocked to read a story of murder in her family history.

With the famine upon her, Ginny Doyle fled from Ireland to America, but not all of her family made it. What happened during those harrowing years, and why does Ginny call herself a killer? Is Majella genetically fated to be a bad mother, despite the fierce tenderness she feels for her baby? Determined to uncover the truth of her heritage and her own identity, Majella sets out to explore Ginny’s past—and discovers surprising truths about her family and ultimately, herself.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Even before you come to care about Jeanine Cummins’ rich and intricately drawn characters, before you become enmeshed in her skillfully tangled plot lines about the hard and wondrous task of mothering children in times both catastrophic and ordinary…Before any of that, this is what you have to look forward to: the first page, Ms. Cummins’ luminous prose, and that feeling we’re all hoping to find when we sit down to read: ‘This is it—a book I’m going to love.’”—Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and The Nobodies Album

“The Crooked Branch explores motherhood, holding onto sanity as life adjusts with a new baby, tilling into that always rich ground of mothers and daughters. Beginning in the famine of Ireland and ending in present-day New York, the story gathers momentum and weight as it unfolds, like watching a freight train thunder along the rails filled with the priceless things of life. As heartbreaking as it is heartening, the story of mothers and what they will do for their babies, touches all the tender places with exquisite timing. Jeanine Cummins is such a good writer. Can't wait to read what she writes next!”—Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Solomon's Oak and Finding Casey

“What an entertaining and moving novel! Though I’ve long known my own ancestors left Ireland because of the devastating potato famine, I never knew much about the history until now. Cummins begins with the utterly relatable Majella, a witty New Yorker struggling with new motherhood and its secret isolation; and sweeps us across the ocean and through time to Ginny, a desperate Irish mother doing her best to support her family. Cummins weaves an exploration of the fierce, primal love of motherhood that connects us all through generations.”—Margaret Dilloway, author of How to Be an American Housewife

“Jeanine Cummins knows that there are stories beneath the stories, and she uses this brilliant knowing to weave a tale that is lyrical, emotional and often funny. This extraordinary novel reminds us how motherhood can make us feel as though we are coming undone while also being remade. Majella and Ginny navigate motherhood with a fierce love that propels the story forward with intense strength. Brilliant, vulnerable and intense, The Crooked Branch pierced my heart and paused my breath.”—Patti Callahan Henry, author of Coming Up for Air and Driftwood Summer

“Exploring the effect of a secret from the past on a woman who is truly on the edge—of motherhood, of her future, of sanity, of happiness—Jeanine Cummins has written a story that truly resonates. Insightful, suspenseful, and sometimes bitingly funny, with characters the reader will think about for weeks, this bittersweet novel is emotional and immensely satisfying.”—Simone St. James, author of An Inquiry into Love and Death

 “The Crooked Branch is a haunting tale of motherhood and the ways in which it can ravage—and resurrect. Cummins's vivid prose and compelling story are burned in my heart.”—Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and In Need of a Good Wife

 “The Crooked Branch is a gorgeous, sweeping novel, equal parts harrowing and hilarious, that grips you from the first page and keeps you in its thrall. Two wildly different stories—a new mother in present-day Queens, a woman struggling to survive and feed her children during the Irish famine—are beautifully woven together, bound by a ferocious mother’s love that echoes across generations.”—Carolyn Turgeon, author of Godmother


Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
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Penguin Group
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File size:
869 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA.

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The Crooked Branch 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Robin Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book A number of years ago when my two boys (who are now grown men, well they like to think they are) were young boys, I had stayed up to watch the movie ‘IT’ by Stephen King. Having finished watching the entire movie rather late, I might add, I found that sleep just wouldn’t come to me. Instead I could see the clowns running around in my house and I feared for the boys. So instead of sleep I kept getting up to check on them eventually sleeping on their floor to protect them from any monsters that might harm them. What does this have to do with my review you ask? Well, there are times when our mind gets the better of us and we can actually talk ourselves into things that others would find somewhat farfetched. As a mother we tend to do things others wouldn’t think of because we feel that it is our way of looking out for our families. We have good intentions but sometimes they don’t work out the way we have it mapped out in our head. Ms. Cummings did a wonderful job at getting across two different views of two very strong women that find that their lives are parallel in a way and how they cope with the day to day struggles of dealing with raising their children; fighting for survival of life and what it costs us as women. We first meet Majella a new mom who has just had a daughter. Dealing with postpartum depression she dreams of that her young daughter Emma is dead. This alone can be scary because if she were to go off the deep end she could actually harm her daughter. Her husband Leo is a chef in Queens, and things are a little stained between them. Ms. Cummings made Majella seem a little self-absorbed and with a bit of a bratty attitude (oh woe is me) that I had a little bit of trouble with. One night unable to sleep Majella finds her in the attic where she comes across a diary from a relative from Ireland that lived during the potato famine. I loved the simple ways that Ms. Cummings intertwined these two women’s lives making them seem very believable. Every struggle that Majella and Ginny go through, every twist in their young lives was so well written that it drew you in making you think of your own struggles as a young mother. I found that I was more drawn to Ginny because I would like to think that I too have made my family (husband and sons my number one priority). There isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do to make sure that they have all the comforts they need even if it means that I go without. For Ginny in order to put food on the table in times when there wasn’t much of anything and death was all around she endured allot just to survive. She was a strong woman that I want to strive and be like. Whereas Majella was more about her, showing us that how she was feeling and how she was not able to cope very well with the whole aspect of birth. It tended to be all about her. At times I would find that I wanted to skip over Majella just to get to Ginny. This fast paced, emotional story about the difficult relationships of women and about women was raw. The characters were so well written that you couldn’t help but feel the gamete of emotions that they were struggling with on a day to day basis. I enjoyed the historical facts within the story they helped in bringing Ginny’s struggles to life. Majella is a little more soul searching as she has to make the decision to leave her job and stay at home; while deals with the depression and mental issue that run in her family. Two women, two different eras, two struggles; different yet the same… A story that will have you emotionally drained, touching your heart and making you want to share this story with your friends. You don’t have to be a mother to feel the power, just being a woman is enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An abandoned badger set, with a large number of ledges due to tree roots. A seperate area in the den is laid out for sick cats, away fro th injured ones, to prevent disease.