Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ellis Island

Ellis Island: A NovelAuthor: Kate Kerrigan
ISBN: 978-0-06-207153-8
Publisher: HarperCollins
Purchase Link: Ellis Island: A Novel
Source: TLC Book Tours
Read the Tours Reviews

About the Book:
Sweethearts since childhood, Ellie Hogan and her husband, John, are content on their farm in Ireland—until John, a soldier for the Irish Republican Army, receives an injury that leaves him unable to work. Forced to take drastic measures in order to survive, Ellie does what so many Irish women in the 1920s have done and sails across a vast ocean to New York City to work as a maid for a wealthy socialite.

Once there, Ellie is introduced to a world of opulence and sophistication, tempted by the allure of grand parties and fine clothes, money and mansions . . . and by the attentions of a charming suitor who can give her everything. Yet her heart remains with her husband back home. And now she faces the most difficult choice she will ever have to make: a new life in a new country full of hope and promise, or return to a life of cruel poverty . . . and love.

I greatly enjoyed this novel!  I love historical fiction and this book was simply unique.  I haven't read a similar storyline to the one in this novel and it was quite fascinating to say the least.  I felt as if I was sitting with a wonderful old woman as she passed on her life story to me.  The story in retrospect is full of wisdom, full of love, full of hurt and with or without regret a story of survival and choices.  It's life in the raw.  I was left to ponder questions such as "Can money buy happiness?"  "What is life without love?" and "What would I choose?"

Ellis Island is beautifully written, enchanting and engaging.  Kerrigan draws the reader deep into the story, transforming your reading spot into a time traveling machine.  I felt like I was able to watch the story play out while being invisible to others.  It was a sort of "fly on the wall" feeling, without being an ugly, nasty fly that someone would want to get rid of, of course!  The characters were intriguing.  You could feel the passion and emotion of Ellie though the others were not explored as deeply.  I wanted to know more about the other characters and see their stories developed, but it didn't bother me much that this was not done.  The story, to me, felt like Ellie's story and not John's or his families or any of the people she meets and works for in America.  I would read more about them in a future novel however.  Kerrigan left herself plenty of characters to work with in a second book to the series if she chooses to use them.

What really struck me about this novel was the vast difference between Ellie's former lifestyle in Ireland and her new lifestyle in America.  In order to put myself in her shoes I had to think.  Could I go back to a life without a flushable toilet? Running water? Internet? Cell phone? A car?  Obviously, some of these are not mentioned in the book but the idea is the same.  Ellie had a new and transformed life and had to choose between it and her old life which included her love.  The simple things we take for granted were major changes for Ellie, enough of a change to make her choose between luxury and poverty and love or no love.

Overall, this fast paced and addictive novel hooked me from the start!  I was drawn to the story and torn between Ellie's choices.  In the end I was left thankful and satisfied.  I only know for sure that I could not give up a life without books like these.  I highly recommend this book to readers of all genres.  It would be great for your book club.  The title does have mild profanity that is placed strategically and in context.  While it doesn't bother me, it may bother others.  However, in my opinion, there is not nearly enough of it to ward you away from this wonderful book.  It can easily be overlooked if you prefer not to read it.

Kate Kerrigan is the author of two previous novels in the United Kingdom. She lives in Ireland with her husband and their two sons.  Visit Kate’s website at and follow her on Twitter: @katekerrigan.

Giveaway:  1 copy US/CAN only thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours. 

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