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Ellis Island: A Novel Paperback – June 28, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006207153X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062071538
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Kerrigan is excellent at evoking both rustic Ireland and 20th-century New York.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Brisk and pleasant.” (Booklist)

“Kate Kerrigan’s Ellis Island is a standout novel that vividly brings alive the very different worlds of New York and Ireland in the 1920s. A love story shot through with a perfect sense of the period, it is a rare combination of historical enlightenment and sheer enjoyment.” (Peter Quinn, author of The Man Who Never Returned)

“Kerrigan is a lovely writer and her book breaks from the traditional mould.” (Sunday Tribune (Ireland))

“This story is written with so much heart, its beat is palpable in every word on every page.” (Cecelia Ahern on Recipes for a Perfect Marriage)

From the Back Cover

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.

More About the Author

Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2008 and been translated into 20 languages, (it is published under the name Morag prunty in the U.S) The Miracle of Grace, which has been adapted as a film script with funding from the Irish Film Board and Ellis Island, the first of a trilogy which was selected as a TV Book Club Summer Read in Britain and launched in the U.S. with Harper Collins in July 2011. Its sequel City of Hope and the final part Land of Dreams are all published in the U.K. with Land of Dreams due for release in the U.S. in October 2014.
Her latest novel, The Lost Garden will be published in the U.K. in May 2014.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain's most successful young women's magazines under her birth name Morag Prunty before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990's. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo - and contributes regularly to the RTE radio program Sunday Miscellany.


Kate Kerrigan: what her peers say.

This story is written with so much heart you can hear its beat and feel its pulse in every word on every page.
Cecelia Ahern

Recipes for a Perfect Marriage is that most prized of things, a unique treatment of an old subject. Not only an extremely entertaining read, this wonderful novel is also chock fill of wisdom about all aspects of love and marriage
Cassandra King

This is a wonderfully written and instantly engaging novel. But what's most impressive here is the wisdom about relationships. Recipes for a Perfect marriage should be required reading not only for those who are married or contemplating tying the knot, but for any person who longs to make any relationship work better.
Elizabeth Berg

Customer Reviews

It was hard to put this book down at the end of a chapter.
Crystal Schafer
The characters feel like real life people you can relate to, you really find yourself caring what happens to them.
Ann Murray
The characters were believable, and the pace of story development was good for me.
Vicki Gammill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Heather ORoark on July 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm always in the market for a good historical fiction novel, so when I heard about Ellis Island I was immediately intrigued. I was thrilled to discover that Ellis Island was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I found myself drawn into the story right from the very first page, and my enjoyment of the novel did not cease until I turned the very last page.

I loved the peek into rural Ireland this novel afforded me. Ellie and John grew up in a poor, tight-knit farm community, and over the course of the novel Kerrigan illustrates perfectly what it must be like to live in those kinds of circumstances. The people in the town, while being very close, are also very cliquish and gossipy. Growing up, Ellie never fit in with her classmates because her parents didn't fit in with the other adults in their town. Her marriage to John helps give her roots but also inspires her to grow wings, based on his need for the surgery. And once Ellie spends time in New York, she can't imagine going back to her (what she perceives as) small, insignificant life on the farm. The strong ties she felt to this life she really didn't even want showed me just how much small-town life in that time would pull a person in. They truly took pride in their farms, their homes, and everything else about their lives - especially since this was just after they became independent from the English. It really was a joy to read about this part of Irish history.

In addition to a peek into rural 1920's Ireland, Ellis Island gives the reader a thorough look into New York City at that same point in history. Ellie hobnobbed with the most influential socialites of that day, so the reader really gets a taste of the kind of luxury enjoyed by the richest people in New York at that time.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Epstein on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book, but the pleasure was marred by horrendous editing. Not only spelling and grammatical errors and wrong names, but some other errors that were truly egregious. For example, at one point it was said that Maidy and Paud were in their late 60's when 11 year old John came to live with them. A few pages later, Paud was 60. Later on in the book, when John must have been near 30, Maidy and Paud were still as active and physically busy as when John was a child. They would be near nearing 90 if the first description of them were true. I'm a stickler, so this really bothered me.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Pirate2240 on July 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
All of us dream someday to find the perfect person to marry. Sometimes we find that person in our very best friend we have grown up with. Now much older we see them in a different light. Once just someone who we would climb trees with, scour the land for small animals and even walk us home from school, now they have matured into something much more. We shared a friendship and a love that isn't known until you find it in your best friend like John Hogan and Ellie Flaherty.

Ellie's spent her childhood growing up under her father's watchful eye being the priest of the village in which they lived. Living a life that he considers proper he wants only the best ethical life for Ellie, however when Ellie sees fit to fall in love with John and runs away to get married, it will create a dividing line for Ellie between her and her family.

Now living with John struggling to make ends meet in a run down college in the midst of war between the Irish and the British, Ellie worries that John efforts in helping out in the war will be their undoing. When he is wounded and can no longer walk, Ellie fears that now they will wind up poor since John can no longer work.

Receiving hope in the form of a letter from her friend from school, Shelia offers Ellie hope in working in America for a rich lady in need of help. Seeing an opportunity to help John with paying for an expensive surgery to make him walk again, Ellie sees no choice but to head to America long enough to make John well again.

In the novel Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan we see the difficult choices that people had to make in living their homelands in hopes of coming to America for a better life.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amandahlynn on October 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a descendent of Irish immigrants, I felt like this book grabbed me. However, I think it could have been executed with a bit more gusto.

First of all, the editing needs work. The timeline is off - Paud and Maidy would have been nearing 90 toward the end of the book, and Paud was helping build stone walls? That seems a little far-fetched. Also, there are some major typos - once Maidy is called by a name clearly not hers (though I forget exactly what it was), and further along Ellie refers to herself, when it is clearly intended to say "Sheila" (page 177... "...and I followed them both into the Palm Lounge as Ellie steadied herself on her lover's arm...").

Secondly, there really isn't too much detail. Ellie was in New York for four years, and yet the time seemed to just fly by. It appeared as though she was only there for maybe 1.5-2 years, and then it was really 4? There were major gaps where more details about her life could have been described. This makes her look more spoiled when she returns to Ireland, without much to back it up. You don't really see the point where she and John drifted apart, aside from her proposal for him to join her in NYC.

This is a good, quick read as the story itself is gripping. However, I would have preferred to see this longer, with a lot more detail.
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