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Ellis Island: A Novel by Kate Kerrigan

Ellis Island: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Kate Kerrigan

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2473146,499 (3.48)13
Title:Ellis Island: A Novel
Authors:Kate Kerrigan
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:pub now, given away

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Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan (2010)



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I picked this story because it presents a few elements I like: it’s an historical novel, it’s set in the Twenties, it has an Irish protagonist. It’s the story of an Irish immigrant to Roaring Twenties America, I thought it was going to be a journey of discovery, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. The contrast between Irish rural life and the boasting modern life of Twenties New York promised to be exiting and interesting.


Maybe I was expecting too much, but where this story presents an interesting concept, the execution didn’t quite meet my expectation.
I actually enjoyed the first 100 pages, where the main characters are still kids. I liked the way they tried to be together, overcoming the limits of the rural society they lived in. But as soon as they became adults my interest dropped, I think for two reasons: I found the MC, Ellie, seriously unsympathetic, and many historical events are treated with excessive superficiality.
I found the way the author treats the fight for independence particularly unsatisfying. I never felt the pressure, the hopes, the pain, the uncertainty that I connect with the concept of fighting for freedom of your own home coming across to me. The war is portrayed as distant and never really impacted the characters in a profound way, not even when their lives are changed. Or maybe this is because Ellie is so utterly uninterested and even resentful to the fight that nothing but that indifference came to me.

Everything seemed so easy. Ellie leaves Ireland alone (and I do wonder whether this is really accurate, historically) for New York. The journey across the ocean is easy and comfortable. She reaches New York and she has a job. She gains more and more with no particular effort and – I’d say – no particular merit either. She meets one of the richest men in NY and he falls in love with her. I mean… And all the while, even when she stresses the fact she’s doing this for John, she acts as if she really didn’t care for no-one but herself. Her own achievements are always the paramount idea in her mind, she never considers renouncing anything for someone else.
I had a very hard time connecting with her.

The ending was completely unsatisfying, maybe because it’s quite unclear. I came to it and wonder: well, so what? The story presents lots of threads that seem to go nowhere and don’t add anything to the story. The plot was very confused and the main character never seemed to be affected by it.
It was a big disappointment for me.
( )
  JazzFeathers | Jul 27, 2016 |
I was rather disappointed by this first book for my new book club. It was very simply written with one very simple story line. I kept looking for something else to happen.

Ellie is a young girl who falls in love with John and elopes with him rather than entering the convent as desired by her pious father. John is a fighter in the fight against the British occupation who gets seriously wounded. The operation which he requires costs a great deal of money and Ellie goes to NYC to earn money to send home to him so he can have the surgery. Ellie struggles in NY but she has it easier than most in that she arrives with a position. She adjusts well to American life and has to make a choice to stay in America or return home to John. ( )
  AstridG | Oct 21, 2015 |
Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan is a historical fiction novel set in the 1920s when Ireland is fighting for Home Rule, and Ellie Hogan makes a bold choice to accept a job in New York City to raise the money her husband needs for an operation. Ellie is not like the other members of her school group; she dreams of fine things and a life outside her little village of Kilmoy. Her childhood friend, John, and his family become like a surrogate family for her, showing her the kindness she lacks from her own parents who are so insulated that they forget to hug their daughter and encourage her. Her friendship soon blossoms into love, a childhood love that becomes a motivation for her to impress, to move beyond the bounds of her family.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2013/08/ellis-island-by-kate-kerrigan.html ( )
  sagustocox | Aug 23, 2013 |
Kerrigan writes a story with great emotion in the story of a female Irish immigrant who returns to Ireland. Its a feel good story with the heroine meeting with success before she even leaves the ship for Ellis lsland. This story of success where she meets wealthy and is loved by a wealthy man. Her return to her husband and the poor rural life in Ireland again meets with success when she creates her own store which is wildly successful. A good book for summer, though, upbeat with the message hard work brings success. ( )
  brangwinn | Aug 11, 2013 |
The title is a misnomer, for sure; Ellie does not get to Ellis Island until the second half of the book, and then she's only there for a few pages. Why is it called Ellis Island? Very strange. The parts I enjoyed most were the descriptions of her life in Ireland, not her unrealistic forays in New York City. Ellie strikes me as extremely selfish so it was difficult for me to drum up any sympathy for her. ( )
  amandacb | Aug 7, 2013 |
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Prologue: It was snowing on the Jersey Shore.
Chapter One: The first time I fell in love with John, I was eight and he was ten.
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Book description
Ellie Hogan and her husband John were childhood sweethearts, destined to live together on his farm in Ireland. But when John, a soldier for the Irish Republican Army, becomes too injured to work, Ellie must take drastic measures in order for them to survive. Like many other young Irish women in the 1920s, she immigrates to New York City, to work as a maid for a wealthy socialite.

In New York Ellie is introduced to a sophisticated lifestyle, including a charming suitor who can give her all she ever wanted. While her heart remains with her husband, Ellie is tempted by this glittering new world of fine clothes and parties, money and mansions. Soon she is faced with a monumental decision: to stay in a country full of hope and promise, or to return home to a life of poverty…and love.
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"In 1920s New York, a young Irish woman must choose between her new life and her husband back home in Ireland"--

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