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The Hawthorns Bloom in May

Doughty, Anne

New York: Blackstaff Press


The Hawthorns Bloom in May

Plot Summary

Taking place between 1912 ad 1916, the novel follows Rose Hamilton and her family as they endure life-changing events, such as the tragedies of the Titanic, World War One, and Easter Rebellion.

Rose’s son, Sam Hamilton, struggles to take care of his six children, which increases to eight children by the 1916. His struggle is heightened by the cold relationship with his wife, Martha, who is rarely pleasant to him or his family. Martha and her uncle Joe’s support of the Ulster gun-running efforts conflicts with Sam’s Quaker beliefs, resulting in an additional burden on their already strained living arrangements.

Rose’s daughter, Sarah Sinton, recently lost her husband, Hugh, to typhoid fever. She struggles to overcome her grief, raise two children, and stay on top of her duties as a director of the family mills. During a visit to her sister’s home, Sarah is reunited with her brother-in-law’s friend, Simon Hadleigh, an English Ambassador. While around Simon, Sarah is the happiest she has been since Hugh’s death. This visit sparks a long writing exchange between Simon and Sarah. They cannot often see each other because of Simon’s work duties in foreign countries. In 1914, during another visit, Simon proposes marriage and Sarah accepts. However, the assassination of Franz-Joseph and Countess Sophie, and the subsequent outbreak of World War One, forces Simon back to work. The two continue communications through loving letters.

One fortunate occurrence for the family is the arrival of Alexander Hamilton. He shows up at Rose and John Hamilton’s home one day in 1912. Alex claims an encounter with Rose’s brother, Sam McGinley, made him want to visit the place. Alex declares that his deceased mother told him at a young age that his family came from Annacramp. Alex is accepted into the family as a distant cousin. He lodges nearby at the Jackson household. Sarah is the only one who questions Alex’s story. When confronted, he confesses that his name his Hamilton, but he spent most of his life as an orphan and he does not know his ancestry. He hopes Sarah will keep his secret because it is the first time he has been a part of a family. Recognizing the positive presence Alex has had on her family, especially her father, she agrees to keep the secret. Alex and Sarah promise to look after each other. Alex resolves to not marry until he sees that Sarah has completely moved on with her life without Hugh.

During Easter 1916, Sarah and her two children visit Lily Molyneux and Uncle Sam McGinley in Dublin. Sarah and her family struggle through the rebellion with few supplies, and the constant threat of being shot by a sniper or caught in a burning house. Sam McGinley is also concerned about his nephew, Brendan, who is fighting with Michael Mallin and the rebels.

Meanwhile back in Annacramp, Sarah’s brother, Sam Hamilton, convinces the postmaster to inform him or Alex of any news from Dublin. A week later, as soon as the roads are clear, Sam and Alex drive to Dublin to bring Sarah and her children home. They arrive to find Sarah and her family safe but Uncle Sam McGinley missing. Sam McGinley went out during the night without telling anyone and he never returned. Word arrives from Nevil, a stretcher volunteer, that Uncle Sam was found shot to death. The only thing found on his body was a letter addressed to his sister, Rose.

They return home and Sarah informs her mother of Sam’s death. The letter reveals that Sam went looking for Brendan with the hope of persuading him to give up the fight and flee to safety. The novel’s tension resolves with the surviving family members moving forward. Rose and John decide to retire in Rathdrum, Sarah prepares to marry Simon, and in the closing paragraph, it is revealed that Alex plans to marry Emily Jackson and stay at the Ballydown home.

Main Characters

  • Rose Hamilton (nee McGinley)

  • Sam Hamilton

  • Sarah Sinton (nee Hamilton)

  • Sam McGinley

Significant Minor Characters

  • Alex Hamilton

  • John Hamilton

  • Simon Hadleigh

  • Martha Hamilton (nee Loney)

  • Lady Lily Molyneux

  • Brendan Doherty

  • Emily Jackson

Publication History

The Hawthorns Bloom in May is Doughty’s eighth book about the Hamilton family. The novel was first published in 2005 (large and regular print) by Severn House Publishers. A paperback edition was published in 2006 by Blackstaff Press. Audio cassette and CD editions were made available in 2007 by Soundings Audio Books.

The novel is currently in print.

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