PASSAGE WEST by Dallas Miller
Kirkus Star


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Another likable hut-to-mansion package in the Immigrants/Evergreen mold, with family histories running parallel to actual landmark events--in this case the Irish uprisings of 1916, labor strife in New York's garment industry, the Redbaiting excesses of the 1930s Dies Committee, and the beginning of World War II. Two young Irish immigrants, Nora and Patrick, are close neighbors in the County Cork, but they arrive and thrive separately in America, leaving tragedy and terror behind them--Nora, longtime servant in the home of an English landowner saw her lover Thomas Cassidy hung by the English in the wake of a village riot; Patrick (Thomas' brother) escaped from jail while his father and three brothers were slaughtered by English soldiers. Now in New York, pregnant Nora is a cook for a bleak couple but is rescued from her risky lot (the husband has rape in mind) by well-to-do builder Charles Molloy--she'll bear nine children, including first-born Tom, son of dead Thomas Cassidy, whom Molloy accepts as his own. Patrick, in the meantime, is discovering how factory owners exploit women in the shirtwaist industry, so he becomes a labor organizer, marries the dastardly boss' ex-wife, moves to the Coast, and takes the reins of a longshoremen's union; he will later be betrayed by a co-worker and called before the Dies Committee. Back to the Molloys to find young Tom torn between two lasses: lower-class Peggy, who waves her fork when she talks but offers nirvana in bed, and Nancy--a delightful first-family Delano (with Nora's help, she wins). And there's a final fade-out with a doomed Tom in the RAF and the birth of his baby, while Patrick advises the Irish against neutrality in the coming war on the Voice of America. Not much ballast, but this agreeable saga should have an easy passage in the family-dynasty sweeps.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1979
Publisher: Harper & Row