So Many Partings

“Almost impossible to put down.  Cathy Cash Spellman has the ability to produce one powerful scene after another, and the strong plotting draws you helplessly on.”
Publishers Weekly

“A cross between The Thorn birds and Ragtime!”
– New York Daily News

So Many Partings

Ireland 1874.  In a small whitewashed cottage on the grounds of a great estate, a baby boy is born.  His name is Tom Dalton.  He is the son of an Irish Earl and the housemaid who loves him…

So begins the story of a family whose past is deeply rooted in the turbulence of Irish history, but who’s fortunes are tied to the turbulent America of the early twentieth century.  From the poverty of the Irish immigrant to the wealth of the self-made man… from the sorrows of a young boy, deserted by fortune and family, to the triumph of a patriarch capable of outwitting Fate itself – this is the story of Thomas Dalton and the women who shape his life.

Driven from his ancestral manor in Westmeath by his father’s vindictive family, young Tom Dalton leaves Ireland and makes his way to America.  Befriended by the founder of the Longshoremen’s Union, groomed by one of Tammany’s most powerful political bosses, Diamond Jim Mulvaney, Tom fights his way to a place in the glittering mansions of New York’s Fifth Avenue, but pays a massive price for all her gains.

Love and Betrayal

So Many Partings is about love and betrayal, about a man and the women who love him: the bewildered mother who abandoned him to save herself, the gentle wife who defies her father to marry him, the shrewd madam who pledges her loyalty as well as her love, the high-spirited granddaughter who inherits a greater legacy than wealth.

A novel about triumph and heartbreak, set against the richness of Irish American history, So Many Partings is about one passionate family… their triumphs and tragedies, partings and reunions… but most of all, it’s a story of men and women whose lives will become as real to readers as their own.


So Many Partings Excerpt


The small boy touched the lips of the man in the rosewood coffin.  He knelt reverently beside the waking table and brushed the dead man’s auburn hair back from his waxen cheek.

“Don’t be dead, Da,” he whispered softly.  “I don’t know what to do without you.”

There was no answer in the silent and forbidding room.

“I love you.  I’ll always love you.”  Resignedly, the eight-year old boy nestled his body in against the mahogany coffin rail, and settled to his vigil with a sigh of resolute devotion.

Thin tapers danced shadows on the paneled walls and flickered leaping shapes upon the Adamesque ceiling twenty-five feet above.

Outside the stately windows the December wind howled angrily, and far above, it shook the chimney pots.

“I heard the banshee call last night, Da,” the boy whispered conspiratorially to the corpse.  “She came to my window in the night, you know the way she does.  She shrieked and wailed so I’d know someone was to die, but I didn’t know you would be the one to go.  You seemed to be forever – so big and strong you were.”  The boy tenderly patted the lifeless hand, three times the size of his own.  “You feel terrible cold, Da.  I wish you didn’t feel so cold.”  The child struggled out of his homespun woolen jacket and laid it gently on his father’s body, then settled back into his accustomed place, hugging himself to keep warm in the icy dark.

“The house is as much yours as it is theirs, son,” his father had said proprietarily in other days, and the child had nodded in gracious assent, feeling a curious lump in his throat at the knowledge that because of his illegitimacy he was not even permitted inside his own house.

He looked around him now in the fire-lit gloom and tried to pick out the particulars his father had described – the plaster rabbit with a curled ear that had chipped off due to the mischievous efforts of a Harrington child a generation past; the satinwood walls made with wood imported from the Continent, the intricate parquetry of the floor beams, polished to a high gleam by generations of servants.  Even in the midst of his sorrow he had a visceral sense of belonging.

“What in God’s name are you doing here, you disgusting boy!”  An angry patrician voice pierced the silence.  “How dare you defile my home with your unwanted presence?”  The boy looked intensely at the unfamiliar woman, knowing her to be his grandmother, fascinated by the loathing she exuded toward him.

“I came to stay with me Da, Mrs.” He knew she should be called “Your Ladyship,” but under the circumstances he begrudged her the title.

“Filthy child, how dare you call my son your father!  Get out of here before I have you beaten for your audacity.”

The hostile woman wasn’t large, but there was power in her aspect, black with mourning, volcanic in her anger.

“I’ll go, mum but he’s me Da.  Shame to you that you left him alone and him just dead.  Shame to you.”

The pewter haired woman raised her voice to the tone that had struck terror into two generations of frightened servants.  “If you do not leave this house immediately, I will be forced to deal with you myself.”  As she said it she began a deliberate and menacing walk toward the small boy.  He stood defiantly for a moment, leaned down to kiss his father’s icy cheek, and then scampered for the emptied doorway.

“I’ll be going now,” he shouted from the darkened passage, and his small voice bounced and echoed in the marble stillness.  “But he’s me Da, and I’ll come back to bid him good-bye.”

The matron stood astonished beside the coffin; she was unused to being defied by any in her own home, and she had instinctive detestation of the peasantry.

“Fool!” she hissed contemptuously at the dead man.  “Romantic, arrogant fool.  We’ll all rue the day you bedded that child’s slut of a mother.”

Emphatically, she turned her back on the lonely coffin and strode from the death room, footsteps echoing down the long marble corridor.

The stillness in the coffin room remained unchanged by her hostility.  The candles continued their steady burning unabated.  The embers of the fireplace continued their slow dying, the wind lost none of it’s mournful keen.  And Thomas Dalton, small but determined, crept silently back to the box and resumed his vigil at his father’s side.


So Many Partings Reviews

“Almost impossible to put down.  The author has the ability to produce one powerful scene after another and the action draws you helplessly on…”

– Publisher’s Weekly

“A cross between The Thorn Birds and Ragtime…

– A L A Booklist

“…So Many Partings is a rich treasure trove of unbridled passions, poetic prose and Irish lore that… holds the seeds of greatness within its pages…”

– Affaire de Coeur

“If you loved The Thorn Birds or Ragtime, then So Many Partings may be your meat.”

– Liz Smith

“Flows along with an inexorable narrative current that propels the readers from one involving episode to the next.”

– Booklist

“Great escapist fiction.  Cathy Cash Spellman is an excellent raconteur.”

– The Washington Post

“The author has the ability to produce one powerful scene after another.”

– Publishers Weekly

“As a researcher, the author is compassionate as well as thorough.”

– Atlanta Journal-Constitution


– Library Journal