Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan
ARC, Paperback, 368 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks
June 28, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from Publisher for review
“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.”
Ellis Island was quite the enjoyable read, but for an entirely different reason than I anticipated when I set out to read it. Before I started reading I thought that the general focus of the book would be the time on Ellis Island for Ellie between leaving Ireland and arriving at New York City. I was looking forward to the Ellis Island immigrant experience; however I arrived as something entirely different. A story of love, torn desires, dreams of the future, and still the immigrant experience.
Kerrigan gives the reader a solid feel for both Ireland and America in the 1920’s. The contrast between the two is shocking – rural, extremely close, farming community vs. big, noisy, city life. I grew to enjoy Ellie’s life in both Ireland and New York – while extremely different, still the same in some ways. I myself was torn between which sections of the novel I enjoyed more, America or Ireland – but for different reasons.
The story was fast paced and the characters really suck you right into their lives and loves. The end of each chapter pulls you right into the start of the next – always needing to know what will happen on the next page.
The one thing that I would have liked to have more of was time at the titular Ellis Island. There were two small, very short scenes taking place on this island. I would have liked it to have been more central to the story. There was a moment when I thought it might have been a game changing moment, however that was not the case and I was left a little disappointed in the end.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Ellis Island: A Novel (9780062071538): Kate Kerrigan: Books
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