City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
ARC, Paperback, 355 pages
William Morrow Paperbacks
June 25, 2013
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review as part of TLC Book Tours
An uplifting, inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman truly ahead of her time, City of Hope is the heart-rending but inspiring follow-up to Ellis Island
It is the 1930s and when her beloved husband, John, suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York. She hopes that the city's vibrancy will distract her from her grief. But the Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable-gone is the energy and atmosphere of fun that Ellie fell in love with ten years before.
Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours all her passion and energy into running a home and refuge for the homeless. In return they give her the kind of love, support and friendship she needs to try and overcome her grief. Until, one day, someone she thought she'd never see again steps through her door. It seems that even the Atlantic isn't big enough to prevent the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.
City of Hope is the follow up to Ellis Island released in 2009. Again we see Ellie leaving Ireland behind to move to the Big City in America. Again we deal with some culture shock, but in a slightly different way that before because this time around Ellie is coming over as a wealthy woman to a Depression Era New York City. When we first begin to meet characters that we met in the first book I began to worry that it was going to be a sort of re-hash of the first book- however again I was surprised by the fact that I ended up getting a story I didn’t expect.
There is a LARGE cast of characters here – and while you may not remember who is who exactly, you get the feel of the large community that Ellie creates around her. Some characters came and went too abruptly for me to really connect with them or care about what ended up happening to them, but there were certainly those you could care about and connect with. Having such a diverse cast (diverse in SO many ways) allows there to be something for almost any reader. But Ellie is a hard character to read – I thought I knew where she was going but was disappointed with her choices toward the end of the book. I felt like everything had been leading up to this big decision and established the reader’s commitment to that decision and then she does a complete turn-around at the end – I’m not really sure she grew as a person after all of that. I don’t know that I was disappointed with her choice, per se, but more so with her wishy-washy-ness and how I felt that there was character development that didn’t really do much for me. I was actually really into Ellie’s story until about the last two chapters.
I enjoyed the new view on the Depression. Normally you see people really down on their luck, and you do see that here, but they actually try to find ways to build themselves out of it and the way they did so was interesting. The author creates a unique feel to the environment that they are living in.
The one thing I found hard to buy into was that Ellie has this endless supply of money from businesses that she built up in Ireland – but I didn’t really feel it was believable. How did what was considered a lot of money in a rural community in Ireland in pre 1930 equate to lots of wealth in New York City (even during the Depression the kinds of things she was buying would still have been expensive comparatively)?
I enjoyed the book, but wouldn’t say I loved it. I will likely read the upcoming third book because I want to know where her “big decision” ends up taking her – but I was sort of hoping it was going to resolve itself in book two.
Author Kate Kerrigan also has written Ellis Island and the third book in the series will be upcoming, Land of Dreams. Outside the series, Kerrigan has written Recipes for a Perfect Marriage. You can visit Kate Kerrigan’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
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You can check out the rest of the stops on the TLC Book Tour for City of Hope (I am the last stop I think).
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