cover image Ellis Island

Ellis Island

Kate Kerrigan. Harper, $13.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-207153-8

In her stateside debut, Kerrigan tells a familiar tale of an independent-minded woman born before her time. Childhood friends in early 20th-century Ireland, Ellie Hogan and John fall in love as teenagers, marry, and live happily in near-poverty in a rundown cottage. John works the land and fights for Irish independence, but after he's shot and the pair can't afford the surgery to repair his shattered hip, Ellie travels to America, where a friend has found well-paying work as a maid. Ellie promises John she'll be gone only be until she can send enough money to pay for his surgery, but once in America gets caught up in all New York has to offer and works her way up to an even better-paying job as a typist. And then there's the handsome and wealthy Charles Irvington, whose interest in Ellie forces an age-old choice. Kerrigan is excellent at evoking both rustic Ireland and 20th-century New York, and while the predictability and saccharine nature of the plot is disappointing, the atmosphere may be just enough to win readers over. (July)