Brave Hearts, by Californian author and fellow Irish American, Jean Mahoney is a novel of tenacity and resolution, bravery and love, recounting the story of her family’s American journey.
The complete title immediately resonated with me, and I just knew this novel would be a perfect fit for our Irish American Mom Community.
BRAVE HEARTS: A San Francisco Story:
The Grit and Dreams of an Irish Immigrant Family
I’m thrilled to introduce you to this unforgettable story of grit and determination, set in the colorful San Francisco Bay area and to offer a copy as a prize for a lucky reader to win.
Before I share details of how to enter for a chance to win, let me first tell you a little bit about the book and its author, Jean Mahoney.
About The Book – Brave Hearts:
Five generations of the author’s Irish American family inspired this saga which spans centuries and recounts the plight of these intrepid immigrants, and stalwart settlers of the American West.
The cast of characters from this devoted family includes survivors, artists, homemakers, lovers, business owners, dressmakers, house painters and farmers.
Beginning with an ocean crossing from Ireland in the 1840s, the family experiences the 1906 earthquake, a devastating train wreck, farming, drought and family tragedy with remarkable resilience.
Poignant, harrowing and ultimately triumphant, Brave Hearts tells a quintessential American story and Irish immigrant tale through the unique lens of a talented writer.
About The Author Jean Mahoney:
Jean Mahoney is a San Francisco native, grew up in Palo Alto, and has studied San Francisco and the greater Bay Area history for decades.
She is a writer, poet and award-winning educator whose writing has appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Sisters Singing: Blessings, Prayers, Art, Songs, Poetry and Sacred Stories by Women.
She taught public school in Santa Cruz for twenty years, and worked as a pioneer in environmental education. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Interview With Jean Mahoney:
I recently sent Jean some questions about her inspirations for writing this immigrant family saga. She kindly replied and I’m delighted to share her answers with you today.
Q: Brave Hearts is a wonderful account of the Irish immigrant experience. Why did you think it is important to share this story?
A: I think it is important to share my ancestor’s immigrant stories for two main reasons. First of all I see that many Americans do not know the stories of their families who first came here.
I did find and come to know facts, ship’s records, census records and such, but wanted to write about their times and why they would leave their homeland. I wanted to get the feeling of my ancestors’ realities so I wrote in their voices at times in various chapters.
The second reason is that there is so much negative talk about immigrants in the news of our papers in this country. I wanted to reinforce the fact that all of us who call ourselves American (except the Native Peoples who have been here for over 9,000 years) are newly immigrated here.
Q: Did your own family history and ancestral heritage inspire you to write Brave Hearts?
A: Yes, my own family history influenced these tales and my mom encouraged me to write these stories. I learned of their stories beginning when I was about 8 or 9 and I lived with my grandparent’s tales in my heart over my whole life.
My mom was the main source of her family’s stories. My grandmother saved a scrapbook dating from the late 1890’s with clippings and stories of her own life and times. In those days local papers in small towns (even in San Francisco!) wrote about their residents and so it was easy for my Grandma, Charlotte Lynch, to cut out articles and paste them into the pages as a record of her life.
Then my mother, Barbara Mahoney, told me the stories of her parent’s lives throughout her long life of 97 years. My grandparents lived through some intense times and had many adventures. My mom told me most of theses stories and we would review them together after I had written them. She then gave them her stamp of approval.
Q: The byline to your novel is – “The Grit and Dreams of an Irish Immigrant Family.” This resonated with me especially the word ‘grit,’ since I always look on my Irish ancestors as gritty, determined people. Was your novel created to honor the courage, determination and grit of the Irish people who came to America to escape the poverty and hardships of Ireland?
A: Yes, my novel was truly written to give people who live now the reality of why my great great great grandparents had to leave Ireland. As you will see in the book, the first chapters are about the Irish famine told from their points of view. It lays out the reasons they had to leave their homeland where their ancestors had been living for thousands of years.
The poverty, illness and starvation they faced in those black years of the late 1840’s was just too much to go on living in Ireland. So they moved to America- a new country with plenty of land and food to be able to settle and thrive.
My father’s Irish cousins in County Kerry told us when we visited them that the Irish back in those famine days had a saying, “There’s hope from the sea, but there’s no hope from the grave.”
Q: This novel is based on stories of your own Irish American family. What kick started your interest in learning more about your family and what inspired you to share their stories with the world?
A: I think I have always been interested in family history from when I was a small girl and found my grandma’s scrapbook in our hall closet.
I myself saved news clippings of important events over my lifetime too. My mom was a story teller, and as she told me stories of her family she said, “You really ought to write these down.”
So I did. It took almost ten years to compile the stories into a book that begins in the 1850’s and ends in the 1950’s. There are 5 generations included.
Q: In the Irish American Mom Community we believe in recording our forefathers’ immigrant tales as heirloom gifts for future generations. Upon completion of your manuscript did you feel a sense of accomplishment and family pride?
A: When the book was completed and published in January of 2019 I felt so proud that my ancestor’s have a place in the world now and their stories are shared.
As you will see from reading “Brave Hearts” my ancestor’s had some real trials to live through which they did successfully at every turn.
This does not mean that life was easy for them at all, but the book shows that even though every life has challenges there are good times as well.
Q: Do you have any advice for others who wish to record their family stories? Or perhaps you have words of encouragement to help people start their own genealogical journeys.
A: My words of advice for people wanting to record their family stories, is to begin by using several methods. If you have relatives of an older generation- talk with them, record them and get the timbre of their voices.
The internet is invaluable for online resources of towns records, church records and census records in so many countries now.
Each county in Ireland does an excellent job of helping with websites and putting documents on line now. We are lucky to live in this era when documents such as ship’s records, etc are so much more available than just 20 years ago.
Also, visit the countries where your ancestors came from and walk their streets. There is nothing like walking those streets, in their towns, and breathing in the air they breathed. If you know of any living relatives in other countries, visit them. I have found that my Irish cousins are so happy to see me, and know my life and times.
Praise For Brave Hearts:
Here is what some other writers have to say about this wonderful historical book.
“Brave Hearts is such a vivid account of the Irish immigrant experience that as a college librarian I would enthusiastically recommend it to students of California and US history. As a reader, I recommend it for the sheer pleasure of a page-turning family epic, brimming with love and heartache, adventures and reversals of fortune. The resilience of these brave hearts is inspiring!”
~ MARY CAMILLE THOMAS, author and Librarian, Foothill College
“Jean Mahoney has brought the immigrant experience vividly to life in this warm, authentic, humorous, historical fiction saga of her Irish ancestors and the early days of San Francisco. The tales, trials and triumphs of Charlotte, Philip, their children and everyone they encounter will live on forever and deeply touch the hearts and minds of readers.”
~ KATE AVER AVRAHAM, author of Joey’s Way and What Will You Be, Sara Mee?
“Brave Hearts is not only a San Francisco story, it’s an American story. Author Jean Mahoney writes about her people who, with dreams aplenty, made San Francisco and the California Delta their home. But as you read, you may find this is also your story. So many of our parents, grandparents,and great grandparents did exactly what Mahoney’s ancestors did—they took a chance and came to new shores for freedom from oppression to create a new home through hard work and wit and tons of determination. Sadly, there could be no better time for this book than now when our government is making life for new immigrants and potential immigrants unbearable. Sit down with a cup of tea, open the book, and settle in for Mahoney’s engaging, imaginative family tale.”
~ PATRICE VECCHIONE, co-editor of Ink Knows No Borders:
Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience
“Jean Mahoney has a gift for bringing the voices of her Irish ancestors to life. We witness their struggles, loves, joys and pain. What a pleasure to meet these wonderful courageous characters through her lively historical fiction. Mahoney’s exquisite attention to detail brings the early history of the San Francisco Bay Area vividly to life.”
~LAURA DAVIS, author of The Courage to Heal
Where To Purchase Brave Hearts:
Publication Date: January 10 , 2019
ISBN: 978- 0 -9845074- 1 – 2
Price: $19 .95 – Original Trade Paperback (168 pages / 98 color illustrations)
Publisher: Sisters Singing Publishers
Contact: Carolyn Brigit Flynn (Email – [email protected] )
One lucky reader will win a copy of Brave Hearts by Jean Mahoney.
To enter just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Sunday, April 7th, 2019.
Any comment will do. What you write does not affect your chance of winning, but if you need inspiration why not tell us about your family’s journey to America, a little snippet of your own immigrant tale.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so that I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail won’t be published, just used to contact our lucky contestant for mailing of the prize.
The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 7th, 2019, at the bottom of this blog post.
You may check out Irish American Mom’s complete terms and conditions for sweepstakes’ entries by clicking here.
Many thanks to everyone who supports this book giveaway.
Jean and I would really appreciate it if you could share this post with family and friends who might be interested in this story of the Irish in America.
And many, many thanks to Jean for sharing her work and inspirations with us today.
Winner Chosen On April 7th, 2019:
Good news! Our winner has been chosen randomly using the Pick Giveaway Winner Plug-in for WordPress.
Congratulations to …..
I’ll email Maureen to let her know she is our winner and arrange for Jean to mail her prize.
Many thanks to all who entered this little giveaway.
I have so enjoyed reading all of your comments and learning about where your ancestors came from in Ireland and where they settled in America. I find these immigrant tales fascinating.
And thanks again to Jean for sponsoring the prize for this contest.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)