08 September 2013

City Of Hope by Kate Kerrigan, Book review

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 25, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0062237286


The heartrending and inspiring sequel to Ellis Island, Kate Kerrigan's City of Hope is an uplifting story of a woman truly ahead of her time.

When her beloved husband suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York, where she worked in the 1920s. She hopes that the city will distract her from her anguish. But the Great Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable. Gone are the magic and ambiance that once captured Ellie's imagination.

Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours her passion and energy into running a refuge for the homeless. Her calling provides the love, support, and friendship she needs in order to overcome her grief—until, one day, someone Ellie never thought she'd see again steps through her door. It seems that even the vast Atlantic Ocean isn't enough to keep the tragedies of the past from catching up with her.

Here are my thoughts:

A sequel to Ellis Island,  City of Hope's locales of Ireland and New York in the early 1930's gives readers a unique outlook of life in both places as well as of a singular young woman. Ellie Hogan's ideas are indeed very modern for the time: she is a business woman and her venues are varied: a shop, a clerical school, even a beauty salon. She has even built herself a little heaven, a nice little apartment in Kilmoy whilst still living the old way in her farmhouse with her husband. Somehow she balances her life yet Ellie however always yearns for more.

The love of her life, John is a wonderful husband who cherishes her, a simple man who likes to roam the Irish countryside. Unspoken shadows haunts Ellie's life as three miscarriages have left her deeply scarred.
Then there is her past which we are given to understand includes years living abroad to earn the necessary funds for a much needed surgery for John, injured during the Irish Civil war and there is also mentions of a love interest.

When John dies, Ellie attempts to escapes her grief by running  away to America. But time has not stood still and the Great depression has settled heavily on New York since the stock market crashed. Gone are the fun filled days she remembers. 

A chance encounter with a homeless family induces her to reach out and Ellie finds a new purpose in life. Utilizing the monies earned through her business overseas, this new venture helps those in need, giving each individual a chance to earn a living instead of just accepting charity.

I am cognizant City of Hope may be read on its own but I felt the sequel might have helped me to appreciate more the main character. 
As it is, despite a well written narrative, the author failed to strike any spark, it is almost as if Ellie is unfeeling. It is clear she must be in control or she is not happy. Modern she might be, both with her business acumen and in her love life. Yet there is always something missing for her. I found her manipulative, insensitive and frankly lacking femininity. Not even the love of a good man is enough to make her happy!

I'll curtail my own thoughts by saying Kerrigan gives an authentic feel for the era with her substantial historical notes. As to the plot, it might just be after all a question of taste. This one left me however decidedly dissatisfied. 

3 Stars!

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 released in late March 2012 in Britain.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain's most successful young women's magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990's. She writes a weekly column in the Irish Mail about her life in Killala, County Mayo - and contributes a bi-weekly opinion editorial to the Irish Mail on Sunday.
Vist her website (HERE).

Note to Readers: This review was not requested and reflects ONLY my opinion!


  1. Books like this always upset me, I must like the main character or hate them but when i just dislike them it is hard to keep the interest up.

  2. On one hand I like her descriptions of a city in the grip of Depression, on the other end I thought the main character to be so shallow, I wanted to stop reading right there and then...Perhaps the next installment might help 'bind' the stories...By the way, Land of Dreams is the next title, I just wished I had noticed the word 'Trilogy' before I started...Still, Kerrigan knows her trade...After all, I hung in there.

  3. This was somewhat similar to Forever Amber which I read recently. I disliked Amber so many times in the book, but the story itself was very good.


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