Mary Ryan, the great-great niece of Tom Walsh, has penned a captivating combination of fact and fiction detailing the rags-to-riches tale of her ancestor.

Born in Ireland in 1851, Tom was the son of a farmer and emmigrated to the United States in 1870 with his older sister, Maria. While initially employed as a carpenter's apprentice in Boston, Tom soon made his way out west to Dakota Territory and later to Colorado to make his fortune in mining.

Though his initial mining and real estate ventures were profitable, Tom wanted to make a greater fortune for his young wife, Carrie, and his father and sister, Peggy, whom he left behind in Ireland.

On the verge of losing it all, Tom located a gold mine that catapulted him into monetary success very quickly. Soon he was able to very generously provide for his family in Ireland as well as for his wife and their two children, Evalyn and Vinson.

Through Ryan's portrayal of Tom, we see a man who was both an enigma and a true American legend. His wealth wasn't used merely for his own personal gain but to provide lavishly for those he loved and the communities in which he lived.

A truly moving historical saga, this is an enthralling novel of heartbreak and triumph along the path to the American dream. (Apr., 480 pp., $27.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick