Friday, August 30, 2013

Book review: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

Life’s darkest hour can sometimes lead to more happiness than ever expected. This is the second book in a series and a follow up to "Ellis Island". Ellie Hogan is in Ireland, leading a content life with her husband John. While John likes the quiet pace of farming in rural Ireland, Ellie, in part to compensate for the lack of children, is a business woman constantly on the search for yet another opportunity. In her town, she keeps buying up businesses, leading to a rare, but volatile argument with her husband. The sudden death of John leaves a bigger void than expected for Ellie, who leave Ireland for the USA. Here she seeks refuge in the challenging business environment of New York. But rather than continue her life as a business woman, Ellie fills her emptiness by providing comfort to the poor. 

available on

Will this new purpose finally allow Ellie to feel fulfilled? Not quite and the reader can follow the struggle of Ellie for a purpose in her life and the end is quite surprising. Not certain what I expected for sure, but now that I have had some time to think about the plot, the ending does make sense and is in line with the character of Ellie. She is an independent woman, ahead of her time. She does not compromise, but in the end knows exactly where she belongs and what her mind and body need. It just takes her a little bit longer to figure this out because even in her missteps, she can still build success. 

I found this to be a very engaging book. The author understands to let New York City of the Great Depression come to life. She vividly paints a picture of the hopelessness that Roosevelt’s election can only partially assuage and in which individuals like Ellie are counted upon to act as angels for the starving and weak. 

At the same time that she makes her living in New York and finds purpose and happiness (somewhat) in her life, Ellie is still Irish at heart and I find traces of Maureen O’Hara’s characters in the feisty and independent Ellie. I have not read the prior book Ellis Island, but now I wish I had read it because it would certainly provide more clues to Ellie’s character and explain her behavior initially. It is not required to have read the prior book to find City of Hope a very good read. But if you get to like Ellie as much as I do, then you really want to know where she comes from and what her prior life has been. By the same token, a future installment in this series is now eagerly awaited by me because I want to know what the future holds for Ellie.

No comments: