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  • Writer's picturelauraquinnwrites

What's In A Name?

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, Thicker Than Water tells the story of 4 friends: Danny, Shannon, Jennie, and Hugh.

I’ve made several posts about how I chose the setting of this historical fiction novel, and why the NJ shore is so special to me. With TTW nearing the end of its developmental edit, I thought now would be the perfect time to share more about my characters. Specifically, how I picked their names and the significant meaning behind them.

Irish Twins (born 11 months apart), Danny and Shannon Culligan are an homage to my own Irish American heritage.

Danny is derived simply from Danny Boy, my grandmother's favorite song. This was one of her favorite renditions. Try not to cry.

Shannon is named after a breathtaking river on the western side of Ireland. My husband and I had the chance to see it for ourselves while visiting the Emerald Isle in 2009.

Jennie is a nod to The Buccaneers, as Edith Wharton called them- American debutantes who married into the British peerage during the Gilded Age. One of whom was Jennie Jerome, later known as Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston's mother). Miss Jerome charted the course that would later be followed by Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Hugh is a tribute to Cape May itself. In particular, to Thomas H. Hughes, who was a South Jersey politician in the 1800s. Hughes was also a hotelier and built Congress Hall in 1816.

Dubbed "Tommy's Folly" by locals, many doubted his success. They couldn't be more wrong.

The establishment thrived. Hughes sold it in 1826 to focus more on his political ambitions. The hotel was given it's current name when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1829.

Sadly, as was much of Cape May, the original building was lost in the great fire of 1878. The hotel was rebuilt less than a year later- this time in brick- where she still stands today, on Congress Place, facing the mighty Atlantic I love so much.

What's in a name? A whole 'lotta heart, that's what.

*Original artwork by J.C. Leyendecker (Hugh), Paul Helleu (Jennie), and Arthur William Brown (Danny)

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