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Migrations

A Novel

by Charlotte McConaghy

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy X
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2020, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 6, 2021, 288 pages

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Aman

Good
Very good.
Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

brilliant novel.
“I lie in the sea and feel more lost than ever, because I’m not meant to be homesick, I’m not meant to long for the things I have always been so desperate to leave. It isn’t fair to be the kind of creature who is able to love but unable to stay.”

The Last Migration is the first adult literary fiction book by Australian author, Charlotte McConaghy. A dire near future, a world of mass extinctions, oceans almost empty of fish: Franny Lynch boards a fishing vessel in Tasiilaq to follow her tagged bird, one of perhaps the very last Arctic terns, on its long migration south.

Under harsh conditions of extreme cold, wild storms and a tense relationship with the crew who seem to barely tolerate her, Franny’s mind cannot avoid forays into her troubled past: parental abandonment, a fervent love, heart-breaking tragedies, grief and incarceration.

Franny Lynch comes from a line of women possessed of wanderlust, but she meets the one man with whom this need not spell disaster: “I rest my head on his shoulder; I rest myself in his hands. It seems a safe place to be kept, even to belong. But where does he get to belong. What crueller fate is there than to belong in the arms of a woman who dies each night?”

But now she makes the journey, selecting this reticent sea captain, Ennis Malone, convincing him to take her along, promising the thing he wants most. She watches the crew: “Even though they are as varied as a group of people can be, I can tell they are all the same, all of these sailors. Something was missing in their lives on land, and they went seeking the answer. Whatever it was, I don’t doubt that they each found it. They are migrants of land, and they love it out here on an ocean that offered them a different way of life…”

What could possibly underlie a determination so single-minded, so all-consuming that this conservation-minded woman can set aside what seems a clear conflict of interest to board a vessel whose captain is equally obsessed with securing the Golden Catch? As the story jumps from present to past and back, McConaghy gradually introduces snippets of Franny’s life that coalesce to form a heart-breaking picture. The resulting “aah” moment will have even the most callous reader choking up with tears.

McConaghy gives the reader gorgeous prose, marvellous characters, some extremely topical subject matter, plenty of emotion and a smidgen of hope. A map would have enhanced the enjoyment of this brilliant novel.
Ruthie

So Many Layers!
I love a novel that defies my expectations and takes me on a journey. Migrations has so many layers and explores so many themes, and yet the author masterfully ties everything together in a hauntingly beautiful tale. Franny is a character unlike any other, she is a "wanderer", unable to settle herself anywhere. She is searching for answers and for closure. She craves family but cannot stay, she has obsessions, she is hopeful and she despairs. The ending was a surprise and left me with hope. There are many characters and they are all well developed. This is a very thought provoking, unique novel with many important themes and much sub-context. It is perfect for book clubs!
Margaret H. (Springfield, VA)

Migrations
At first I thought it would be a light romance of a young girl and her professor, but it is much deeper than that. Instead it is a book of different themes. Yes, it is a strange romance where two people are often apart, but then it is a science warning about the disappearance of fish and the effect on fishermen, and finally it is a mystery as Franny searches for what happened to her mother. The two parallel stories of the missing reach a conclusion which maybe a sorprise to the reader. Besides being a mystery it is also a warning about what may be happening to our world. It is a hard book to put down once started.
Carol N. (San Jose, CA)

A "must" read...
I thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte McConaghy's gripping novel of redemption, love, and survival, "Migrations." In this time of forced sheltered in place isolation, I found by reading her astounding novel, I was finally able to break my "lack of concentration" cycle I found myself spiraling in with other books. This is story is about loss but it is also about hope as the protagonist, Franny tells her story of wildlife's disappearance from our earth. She follows the arctic terns as they travel from Arctic to the Antarctic. She persuades a captain and crew to let her join them and allow the birds to dictate the boat's course. As the story unfolds, the author takes the reader through Franny's harrowing search for the birds and her tormented past. Interlaced in this lyrical story are interesting characters that have their own action filled stories to share with the reader. This unique heart-wrenching story slowly pieces together why Franny is driven to follow the terns and will keep any reader engaged during the difficult days ahead.
Diana P. (Schulenburg, TX)

Migrations
This story is like a puzzle. Every now and then you get a piece of the puzzle. Then you start to put it together. It is very interesting and moving in so many ways and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in birds, climate change, tides and finding yourself.
Ann B. (Kernville, CA)

An enthralling debut novel set in a breathtaking future
This book, like the birds the protagonist is so determined to follow, soars. Reading it in the midst of an actual pandemic gives it that much more gravity. But it needed no help in that, with or without the hovering of coronavirus. The prose is achingly gorgeous: 'I wandered. Through cobbled streets or into paddocks, where long grass whispered hish as I passed between.' The slow emergence of our main character, Franny, how the author lifts veil after veil to reveal her character, made me physically ache for her, while the author's attention to language makes the narrative that much more poetic, that much more enthralling. The laser-focus on nature, in all senses of the word, gives the book both a timeless and timely theme. I loved everything, every aching sentence, of this debut novel.
Gaye R. (Coupeville, WA)

Staying in Touch
Love and loss. Human family and the family of earth.
How does one embrace each of these?
Denial or acceptance? Avoidance or acknowledgement? Escape or engage? As Franny journeys through each of these stages and emotions of her life, she travels physically and passionately from north to south.
Migrations contains a wealth of topics-relationships, death, nature, environment and the most interesting to me, Arctic Terns-for any book group discussion.
When I rate a book 5 stars that means I plan to read it again. As soon as I share this engrossing novel with all my bookworm friends, I will be eagerly rediscovering Migrations.

Beyond the Book:
  The Arctic Tern

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