At the heart of After the Voyage is an American immigrant family making its way forward on a road that is sometimes rocky and steep. From different counties in Ireland, Maggie Qualter and Richard Terrett both sail to America as young adults in 1870 after surviving the Great Hunger as children. After the death of the young wife he loves passionately, Richard marries Maggie with the help of a deceptive go-between who brews trouble in their marriage that never goes away. They raise three children in the midst of Irish American culture, the Catholic Church, and Richard’s battles for the workingman in the Knights of Labor. Mary dreams of being a nun, while Josie seeks the freedom of big-city life in Boston. Neither reckons on the future she will face. Tom escapes factory life by joining the Navy, manages to see the world in the midst of two wars, and comes home to marry his sweetheart and start a new life. Their stories are both remarkable and familiar to any descendent of immigrants.
In 1917 inflation hits the coal regions of North America especially hard. Poor families are forced to make difficult choices. Wasyl doesn’t know how to help his widowed mother and sisters. He has so many questions. He wishes he had a father to advise him, but Wasyl’s father is a big secret that no one ever mentions. Is a nine-year-old boy too young to quit school and work in the mines? There is so much he doesn’t understand. Then one day the truth about Wasyl’s father comes out in the most traumatic way.
Is it kinder to keep secrets, or to deal with them honestly and openly even if they hurt? Wasyl is about to find out.