Mastodon The Writing Desk: Special Guest Post by Anne M. McLoughlin, Author of Irish family sagas the 'Lives' Trilogy

28 May 2023

Special Guest Post by Anne M. McLoughlin, Author of Irish family sagas the 'Lives' Trilogy

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Emotional tales of emigration from Ireland to America, spanning three generations and set against a background of major historical events – the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the sinking of the Titanic.


Tells the story of young Irish girl Johanna McNamara, who, in 1877 leaves her quiet life on the family farm in County Clare and emigrates to America to join her successful businessman brother Hugh.

Full of hope, she is determined to make a success of her life. However, tragedy strikes before she finds her feet in this new world, and she must put the care of others before her own needs.

Back in Ireland, farming life for the family continues through the seasons, with her brother Art struggling to deal with his troubled son Declan. Sending him to America is an option that might help turn him into a man. But little does Johanna know what lies ahead with the arrival of her nephew – his act of betrayal will blow her life apart.

Set in Ireland, Boston, San Francisco and Nova Scotia ‘Lives Apart’ explores sibling relationships and how a disastrous action can reverberate through the lives of the extended family. It also looks at the experience of emigration, both for those who had the courage to venture across the Atlantic and those they left behind.

Amazon/Goodread reviews:

“This book carries the reader along a journey through time and between continents. The writing style brings you easily into the heads of the different characters, and the story paints the drama of individual lives onto a canvas of great historical events. Some of the more contemplative moments are really vividly and finely portrayed - this writer knows how to paint colour pictures!”

“The author, having introduced Johanna to us reels us in masterfully with her beautiful, authentic prose and leads us step by step, thought by thought, through her hopes and dreams . As I read the book I was genuinely moved by the plight Johanna found herself in. . . . a beautiful build up to the major events and a harrowing account of their consequences. The descriptive passages throughout the book are stunning . There is no doubt that this story came from the heart of the author. Only somebody who has a genuine interest in and great empathy with others could so authentically capture the characters in this book and portray them so movingly.”


Focussing mainly on Johanna’s niece, the beautiful, but emotionally fragile, Bridie, a young bride, full of hope and courage, who, following a tragedy, emigrates from Ireland to build a new life in America.

After her involvement in an affair that would rock society were it to be discovered, she is forced into making a heartbreaking decision. She returns home to Ireland with her arsenal of secrets, in her search for peace and the meaning of life.

Hidden lives, memories of the past – who knows what lies beneath the surface we present to the world?

Amazon/Goodreads reviews:

“From the first sentence of this story, the author had me hooked, captured in a web of beautiful descriptive prose, a delicious assault on my senses and drew me irrevocably into the lives, the joys, the agonies, the minds and very hearts of the two main characters. The author is wholly in tune with the vagaries of country living and is truly at her best when she writes about events and community interactions in vivid detail. With scenes like the reciting of the rosary at a village wake, the quiet night-time atmosphere of the lambing shed, she manages to bring life in rural Ireland alive. Her authentic dialogue comes from the very heart and soul of her characters."

“. . . a beautifully written, evocative story of that time. It tells of an Ireland long gone, capturing memories of rural Ireland that will resonate with anyone with an Irish connection and will delight those who don’t. What makes this novel stand out from others in the genre is McLoughlin’s lyrical prose, you can almost see the places she describes, the landscape of her characters’ lives.”


Quiet, gentle Catherine falls for the charming but controlling Thomas who manages to destroy the family in a way that no-one could ever have envisaged.

Eileen returns from America for her mother’s funeral but finds herself having to stay to look after a father she despises.

All her life, Dorothy has hidden an unmentionable secret. Everyone has their suspicions but nobody can give voice to them.

It may take a lifetime, but secrets seldom remain buried.

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About the Author

Anne McLoughlin was born in Ireland and having spent most of her life making television programmes with RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, developed a serious interest in writing late in life, hoping to achieve her ambition to write a novel. The inspiration for her ‘LIVES’ trilogy came after researching her own family tree. The stories she stumbled upon gave her lots of ideas for a novel based on a fictional family. In the past she had written stories for children's television programmes and also published a series of social history books on the Macamores in County Wexford, but it was being highly commended in the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition in the Wexford Literary Festival that gave her encouragement to move on to a bigger project. Success in a ‘Meet the Publisher’ competition for a novel at the same Festival led to a three-book contract with Poolbeg Press and the birth of her ‘LIVES’ trilogy. You can follow Anne on Facebook and Twitter @annemcloughlin0

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