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The men of the Foley family have always been proud and fearless, fashioned by the harsh, cold elements of their country. Their story begins in Ireland, in the mid-nineteenth century. The family have lost their home and suffered another loss which proves more vital - beautiful Emer Foley, wife of Francis, and mother to four boys. Homeless, the family set out on a perilous journey that leads each Foley in his own direction far beyond Ireland, to the shores of Europe, Africa, and America.
Niall Williams leads the reader along their great journeys, guiding his characters until finally they come to terms with their own freedom and dreams.