My friend got this book from the library when I was fourteen or so... I remember she kept telling me what a WONDERFUL, AMAZING book it was, and I could only think, "What on earth could be interesting about the potato famine?" She went on to read the rest of the series, and eventually through telling me more about the story, I became extremely interested, and when I read it it surpassed my wildest hopes. Of course, as I said, I was fourteen or fifteen, and girls that age live on this kind of book. I did live on it. I read it in two days and had to wait a whole week to meet my friend at church and get the second one from her.
But enough on how I found B.J.Hoff... The "Emerald Ballad" series is the best series of books that I think I've ever read. I don't get into romance novels like Grace Livingston Hill or Janette Oke or Beverly Whats-her-name that writes the Amish soap operas - I find them pretty predictable and tacky... With B.J. Hoff I never knew what was going to happen, and she made it all seem so REAL. I have read all five of the books in this series through at least three times, some I've read four or five times. This first one is the best, and could stand alone. It's after you read the second book that you know you HAVE to read the rest.
The story is, essentially, about three people - Nora Kavanagh, Michael Burke, and Morgan Fitzgerald. They were friends in childhood and went separate ways as adults. Nora married, Michael went to New York, and Morgan is a wandering dreamer who writes poetry, plays the harp, and is obsessively devoted to Ireland. It's been a while since I last read the book, so I'm not good with details, but this book has famine, fear, death, romance, white slavers, evil landlords, stuttering Englishmen, near hangings, one killing, one chase scene (what's a good story without at least one chase scene? That was Alfred Hitchcock's idea). But more than anything else, God is the centre of this story, providing all the central people with faith to pull through all the events and survive all the villains I mentioned above.
You should definitely give this book a try. Now that I'm a bit older, it's no longer the staple and sustenance of my literary life but I still enjoy them once in a while and fondly cherish the memories of my friend and I going ga-ga over Morgan.
Let me say a few words about Morgan. For one thing, he's a great big tall guy. For two other things, he has copper hair (which the sun can light ablaze) and green eyes. He's poetic and musical, as I said, and whenever he talks, his choice of words is fittingly dramatic, just as if it came straight out of those dear old melodramatic 30's movies. Personally I find that pretty neato. I would say that he was definitely my favourite character. My friend liked him a lot, but she liked Michael more. I learnt to like Michael a lot toward the fourth read-through, but Morgan remained my favourite.
Okay, I believe I have waxed descriptive enough. If you want to know more, go get this book!