City of Hope

Written by Kate Kerrigan
Review by Wisteria Leigh

City of Hope, the sequel to Ellis Island, begins in Ireland in 1934.  It has been over ten years since Ellie returned from America with enough money to pay for her husband John’s leg surgery.  Today, John works on the farm his parents own, and Ellie owns a successful business in town. They yearn for a child, although she has failed to carry to term. She arrives home one day to discover John slumped over a chair, having died of a heart attack.

Ellie spirals into inconsolable grief, refusing comfort from everyone.  After the customary Irish wake and funeral passes, denial and hopelessness pervade her thoughts, and she makes the sudden decision to return to America.  She leaves her business and family behind as she seeks solace in her past.  After arriving in New York, she questions her purpose in life until one day she meets Maureen, a homeless woman with children. Once again, an entrepreneurial challenge sets in motion a plan that has unexpected results.

City of Hope is a lovely story that captures the essence of the 1930s.  The author weaves her story around the social issues of that time: labor strikes, homelessness, poverty, joblessness, and the plight of single women. Ellie Hogan is a strong female character, but the author doesn’t make her sympathetic enough.  However, two lesser characters emerge who will delight the reader: Sheila, a somewhat eccentric and shallow woman out to catch a man, and Bridie, a steadfast mother figure who Ellie comes to depend on.

Readers with an affinity for generational epics and historical fiction will enjoy both Ellis Island and City of Hope, with a promise of book three to come.