“The Hungry Road” by Marita Conlon-McKenna is the October selection for IrishCentral’s Book Club.

Each month, we will pick a new Irish book or a great book by an Irish author and celebrate the amazing ability of the Irish to tell a good story for IrishCentral's Book Club.

Throughout October, we'll be reading “The Hungry Road” by Irish author Marita Conlon-McKenna.

Synopsis of "The Hungry Road" by Marita Conlon-McKenna

"The Hungry Road" was inspired by true Irish heroes. Set during The Great Irish Famine, it is a story of great courage and the strength of the human spirit. 

In 1845, Ireland’s hopes for freedom are dashed with the arrival of a deadly potato blight. 

Seamstress Mary Sullivan’s dreams of a better future are shattered as she looks out over their ruined crop. Refusing to give in to despair, she must use every ounce of courage and strength to protect her family as they fight to survive.

Dr. Dan Donovan is medical officer to the Skibbereen Union. The arrival of ‘The Hunger’ soon brings starving men, women, and children crowding into the town and the workhouse desperate for assistance.

Parish Priest Rev John Fitzpatrick’s faith is tested by the suffering that surrounds him as the town’s pleas for help to the authorities fall on deaf ears.

Conlon-McKenna says it took her "almost three years to write and research and to put flesh on the bones of such an epic story."

She adds: "At times I found it heartbreaking to read accounts of the times that I was writing about. But finally, my book is done and hopefully ‘The Hungry Road’ will find its way into the hands, hearts, and minds of my readers.”

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Reviews for "The Hungry Road" by Marita Conlon-McKenna

"(Marita Conlon-McKenna has) done a great service to history ... I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I raced through it ... It’s a must-add to your collection." - Ryan Tubridy, RTE Radio 1

"Powerful ... Conlon-McKenna has assembled an excellent cast of characters ... Myriad small, moving details help to illustrate the enormity of the tragedy." - Irish Independent

"Captivating … This well-researched novel brings the atrocity of the famine to life" - Sunday Independent

"It’s a great read - it has the feeling of an epic film."  - Mairead Ronan, Today FM

"Heartbreaking and powerful" - Her.ie

(Reviews provided by Penguin Random House UK)

About Marita Conlon-McKenna

Marita Conlon-McKenna is one of Ireland’s best-loved authors and her books are enjoyed by readers across the world.

Marita grew up in Dublin, with much of her childhood spent in a house overlooking the sea in Greystones, Co Wicklow. Passionate about Irish history, Marita’s first book "Under the Hawthorn Tree" is set during The Great Irish Famine. The book was inspired by the discovery of a famine grave with the skeletons of three children buried under a hawthorn tree.

Published in 1990, the book became an immediate bestseller with rights sold across the world. It went on to win the prestigious International Reading Association award in the US, ‘The Osterreichischer Kinder und Jungendbuchpreis’ in Austria, The Reading Association of Ireland Award, and was filmed by Young Filmmakers Ireland in association with RTE and Channel 4.

The book has become a classic and is used by schools both in Ireland and overseas. It is part of the best-selling ‘The Children of the Famine’ series which follows the O’Driscoll family, who are caught up in the most turbulent times in Irish history. "Wildflower Girl" follows the emigration of Peggy to America and in "Fields of Home," the family’s struggle for land in Ireland and America. Two of Ireland’s foremost artists have done the cover and artwork for the series, Donald Teskey and P.J. Lynch.

Her other children’s books include "The Blue Horse," which won the of The Bisto Book of the Year Award, "Safe Harbour," "In Deep Dark Wood," and "Love Lucie."

Marita also writes women’s fiction and her novels regularly top the bestseller list and have been widely translated. Drawn to write about the women and girls who were sent to work and live in Ireland’s infamous Magdalen Laundries, Marita’s first adult novel "The Magdalen" was hugely successful when it was published in 1999. The book which explores the lives of the Magdalen Women is one that still touches readers and raises many issues.

Her other books include "The Stone House," "The Matchmaker," "Mother of the Bride," "Three Women," and "The Rose Garden."

Marita lives in Dublin and is married to James and has four grown-up children.

"The Hungry Road" and Marita's other works are available for purchase here. You can learn more about Marita on her website here.

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IrishCentral Book Club

Looking for Irish book recommendations or to meet with others who share your love for Irish literature? Join IrishCentral’s Book Club on Facebook and enjoy our book-loving community.