Title: Ellis Island. Forced to take drastic measures in order to survive, Ellie does what so many Irish women in the s 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. 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.
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Title: Ellis Island. Forced to take drastic measures in order to survive, Ellie does what so many Irish women in the s 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. 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.
Thoughts: Most immigration stories discuss the reasons one leaves a homeland for a foreign country, the hardships endured along the way and eventually some form of resolution of life in the new country. Ultimately, the story is much richer for it. The first half of the novel follows the traditional story-telling format. Girl meets boy, girl marries boy. The happily-ever-after, however, does not come, as both John and Ellie are swept up in the Irish revolution.
Hardship follows, as one knows it must. For, she is going to earn money for her husband, rather than being the one left behind waiting to be send for later.
She is the one to blaze the pioneer trail for her family, leaving all that is familiar for the unknown all because of the love she holds for John and the belief she has in their marriage.
Her growing self-awareness and strength are predictable, as she lands in New York harbor during the roaring Twenties — that golden era when women were grabbing new freedoms and rights, when the spirit was one of adventure, and everyone just wanted to have fun.
Ellie truly does come into her own in New York, blossoming and embracing the new culture as any modern woman is wont to do. Love and sticking by that love for richer and for poorer tends to be the vows spoken but not necessarily reality. One reads about all of the immigrants who came to America for a better life but very rarely do we get a glimpse of those who opted to go back across the ocean.
How does the hustle and bustle of the United States, especially during the s change a person? Can one ever truly go back? Ireland and New York in the s are revealed in great detail, making the contrasts between the two worlds more transparent.
The reader can feel the tension as ancient antagonisms against the British rule sparks the revolution and call for home rule. Kerrigan presents the attitudes, opinions, customs, and other minutiae of the day with no fuss or embellishments. My only fault with the novel is its title.
Only two brief scenes actually take place on Ellis Island, as this is not a novel about an immigrant but about a woman and her journey who just happens to go through Ellis Island on one of her stops along the way. Ellie is a character who quickly generates sympathy with the reader, and her journey of self-discovery is as pleasurable as it is fascinating from a historical perspective.
An Irish village and New York City in the s really were two different worlds, and her ability to maneuver through the two makes for a great story and excellent history lesson.
Thank you to Mary Sasso from Harper Perennial for my review copy! All affiliate income is used to support the blog.
I really loved the fact that it was not your typical immigration novel. The image I got of Ireland at the turn of the century was amazing. This sounds quite differnt than what Iw as expecting, but in a good way.
I like that she went to NY bu then went back. I also enjoy books that transport me to another time and place. I liked how it went back to Ireland. We need more stories of how the U. I loved the fact that the U. It was such a unique immigration novel. I loved the history brought to life. My recent post Perfection. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.
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June 26, by Anna. Not indeed that I had been planning to do anything in particular — but nonetheless, I realized how much I had been enjoying the anonymity that New York afforded me. While I had been living my life free from the microscopic study of curious neighbors since I left Ireland, I only became aware of my freedom in that moment. Set in the s, Ellis Island is the story of Ellie Hogan, a young woman who emigrates to New York City to escape the poverty of rural Ireland and work as a maid for a socialite in the hopes of earning enough money to pay for the surgery that will enable her husband to walk again. She is introduced to modern conveniences like electricity, toasters, and warm showers.
The Ellis Island Trilogy, novels set in the USA
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