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Summary

After the birth of her daughter, Emma, the usually resilient Majella finds herself feeling isolated and exhausted. Then, at her childhood home, Majella discovers the diary of her maternal ancestor Ginny and is shocked to read a story of murder in her family history.

With the famine upon her, Ginny Doyle fled from Ireland to America, but not all of her family made it. What happened during those harrowing years, and why does Ginny call herself a killer? Is Majella genetically fated to be a bad mother, despite the fierce tenderness she feels for her baby?

Determined to uncover the truth of her heritage and her own identity, Majella sets out to explore Ginny's past - and discovers surprising truths about her family and ultimately, herself.

©2013 Jeanine Cummins (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"Rich and intricately drawn...luminous prose." (Carolyn Parkhurst)

What listeners say about The Crooked Branch

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Could have been 5 stars

I have given this book 3 stars, the book is in two parts historical and modern, the historical part I would give five stars, it is truly brilliant, unfortunately the modern part is far from brilliant, I found myself wanting to skip these chapters to get back to the other story.

4 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable read

I have really loved Jeanine Cummins other books and I enjoyed this one too overall. However I agree with some of the other reviews in that I loved the Irish chapters but found the New York ones a bit tedious and I really didn’t like the character of Magella and found the narration of her voice hard to listen to!

2 people found this helpful

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loved it

I nearly didn't listen to this because there were some negative reviews about it, I've loved Jeanine Cummings other books and was worried I'd be disappointed but in the end I thought I'd give this a go. I'm so glad I did as I loved it and thought it all tied in well together. She's such a clever and diverse writer.

2 people found this helpful

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Another cracker from Cummins

Cummins has captured the spirit of motherhood during the Irish genocide impeccably. This author is extremely talented. Having read American Dirt and finding it so authentic, I wasn't sure she could capture an entirely different culture in the same way. However I was impressed yet again and I particularly loved the Irish reader.

2 people found this helpful

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A tale of two halves

After reading American Dirt and the equally compelling Outside Boy I looked forward to this novel. However whilst the Irish sections provided a great story brilliantly narrated by Aoife McMahon, the New York present day sections were really annoying and made me want to skip them.

2 people found this helpful

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2 very different mothers

I love the difference between the two female lead characters lives. Gripped by both 🙂

1 person found this helpful

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A warts & all tale of new motherhood

This is a story of mothers & their children told 3 ways.
A modern day woman who tells a warts and all accurate account of being Overwhelmed as a first time mam; The loss of identity; The crazy headspace you enter what with raging hormones & pure exhaustion.
This is tied in with the story of her relationship with her mam. How new motherhood has made her see their misunderstood relationship with new eyes.
The tale is intertwined with the devastating tale of a mother who is raising her children in the horrific circumstances of the Irish famine. This comes into the story via a found diary of ancestor.

The Narrater of the modern tale has a slightly strangled voice & it’s hard to get in on that. Her voice perhaps makes the main character seem more crazed than is appropriate.
But it gives the character depth and vulnerability.
The narrator for Ginny in the Famine story is wonderful & have heard her on another great Audible book “ Rules of the Road”. Her voice lends additional warmth to her Character.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend.

However if your first time mam experience was amazing & wonderful & blissful, do not read as you will find the modern day tale Whiney & annoying!

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Loved this audiobook

I bought this audiobook because I had previously read and really liked American Dirt, and these days I'm only listening to books. So I thought I'd try something by an author I'd previously enjoyed.

I found both stories very gripping in different ways. I note that other reviewers disliked the voice of one of the narrators. While I found it unusual at first, it didn't take me long to get used to her voice. I recommend listening to the sample to see if it bothers you. I'm glad it didn't put me off.

I found Majella's story so easy to identify with as a mother of two very young children. For anyone who's had a baby (especially their first baby) relatively recently there is a lot to identify with and chuckle at. And I felt so much sympathy for her struggles that to others, especially contrasted against Ginny's struggle to survive, may have seemed frivolous. But to me the contrast of them just showed two different ways to struggle as a mother no matter what time, place and circumstances you're born into. I'd highly recommend this book.

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Abrupt end

Felt I wanted to know more about Irish family and how they ALL fared. Two stories ? Enjoyed but not as much as American Dirt or Outsider Boy.

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Disappointed

After American Dirt, I had high hopes that I would enjoy this book. The narrator (New York) has possibly the most irritating voice ever heard on audible. The story was depressing throughout. The good news is that you’ll learn the date and struggles of the Irish during the potato famine. But this story was like wading through thick mud. For too long. There was no satisfactory ending, it was weird and didn’t successfully tie up any of the story. I’m left annoyed and disappointed.

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  • Andréa Veiga
  • 15-03-21

Delightful

The story is so human and so tender. The human courage and fears are so vividly described that you can almost associate certains elements in your own life to the characters.
However, the voice of the American woman is so annoying and over-dramatised that I fought to keep on listening.
If you can look past the awful narrator then I’d say this is a fabulous story!

1 person found this helpful