Source: William Morrow, Harper
Paperback, 400 pages
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City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan is the second novel in the life of Ellie Hogan (if you haven’t read Ellis Island, this review could contain spoilers), a young Irish woman who has traveled to New York City to help save her first love’s mobility and returned home to find her family torn by tragedy. Beginning in the 1930s, Ellie has settled back into her Irish life without electricity and indoor plumbing, embarking on unconventional business ventures for a woman. While her family may stand back and allow her to continue with her ambitions, the resentment and angst these businesses bring into their lives simmers beneath the surface. Ellie is far from the conventional house wife and mother of Ireland, and she knows that she’s the star of her own small town’s gossip, but as long as her life is calm at home, that is all that matters to her.
“However, this morning his blue eyes shone wild with delight. He looked the same as he had done when I had first fallen in love with him at sixteen. Fresh and full of the heart of life, like the outdoors — a man made of earth and air.” (page 11 ARC)
While she’s bustling about with her businesses and her life outside the home, the trials of miscarriages and failed births weigh heavily on her and her husband. Despite the passions she may feel for her husband, they are tainted by his failure to take joy in what she seeks to accomplish and her inability to mourn the losses of her children with her husband at her side. The wall between them causes fissures in their marriage as they bitingly argue about the little things and the signs of things to come are ignored. Her three years in New York changed her from the small town girl who wanted merely a husband and family into a woman who wanted the finer things and a better life.
With the lost children spurring her to make the dreams she had in New York a reality in Ireland, Ellie is able to better the lives of the town’s own daughters and wives, prompting these women to rethink their own roles. Kerrigan takes the time to build up the changes seen in Ellie’s town of Kilmoy, and how those changes are tied to Ellie’s experiences in New York and her own personal devastation at home. Tragedy strikes her home again, altering Ellie’s course once again and pushing her to run away to America. In her grief, she reaches out and lifts those around her up, showing them the way to improve themselves, work for their own betterment, and to help others around them. In many ways, this second book is about redemption and recovery.
City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan is a solid second book in a series, but without having read the first book, readers may find it hard to relate to Ellie’s past and her current situation, particularly her burning desire to run away from Ireland. However, there are enough hints about the past to guide readers who have picked up the second book. Ellie is a strong woman who can inspire others to rise above their own poverty and misfortune, but who continues to struggle internally with who she is and wants to be. Kerrigan’s poise and pacing help readers come to know Ellie as a troubled friend who is still finding her way, even as tragedy strikes and good opportunities present themselves. There is hope that her journey is nearing a conclusion, and readers will hope that comes with the third book.
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, 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 is published by Pan Macmillan in Britain and scheduled for publication in America by Harper Collins in 2013
This is my 2nd book for the Ireland Reading Challenge 2013.