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Ellis Island: A Novel Paperback – June 28, 2011
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“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ellie settled. Perhaps it was the times. But she settled. I feel sorry tor her. She's no better off than Isobel.Published 17 days ago by Etta M. Lanuti
Suggests what is important in the life journeys of all of us. This is an intimate story of one immigrant. Very well written.Published 2 months ago by Dana Vannoy, PhD
Not a great book. Poorly written. It was for my book group.Published 2 months ago by Cecile DeRoche-Cain
I enjoyed this book. It kept me interested in what would happen next to the main character as she journeyed from all that was familiar to a completely new country. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Frances Mcelvey
I love the story of this young woman's bravery to travel to America alone, to work her way up, to get an education in a job skill and then return to her husband in Ireland and be... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Leslie T. Western
Loved it! The usual Irish girl immigrant story but terrific development of character and main character is torn between Ireland and America and 2 loves. Read morePublished 3 months ago by retired teacher