It has been a long time since Ive read an epic saga that sweeps you into the life of a remarkable woman like Gracelin OMalley, who triumphs over tragedy to meet her destiny. The beautiful and feisty Gracelin is married at 15 to her familys English landlord in order for them to keep their poor home.

For one so young to be thrown to the wolves seems harsh by modern standards, but in a time when survival was vital, Gracelin is glad to do what she can to help the familyeven marry a man she doesnt know.

Despite her husbands fits of temper and cruelty, through the death of her infant son and near loss of his twin sister, Gracelin holds on to her dignity and compassion.

When the blight strikes the crops and the tenants are starving, Grace defies her husband to feed the starving and help those with no hopes.

With political unrest seething throughout the countryside and her own brother involved with the rebels, Grace faces serious decisions. Her husbands death frees her from one torment, but not others. Returning home and once again trying to cling to her dreams, Gracelin makes a courageous move to protect those she loves.

Ms. Moore has not only created a sweeping panorama of the famine of 1845, but her characters are so real you will feel their pain, their joy and their struggles. The historical backdrop is brought to life with true affection and compassion, drawing the reader into even the smallest detail of the OMalleys lives. GRACELIN OMALLEY is a classic saga, one that will leave readers impatient for the sequel. SENSUAL (Aug., 416 pp., $13.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin