HarperCollins|2011||Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-207153-8
Sweethearts since childhood, Ellie Hogan and her husband, John, are content on their farm in Ireland – until John, a soldier for the Irish Republican Army, receives an injury that leaves him unable to work. Forced to take drastic measures in order to survive, Ellie does what so many Irish women in the 1920’s have done and sails across a vast ocean to New York City to work as a maid for a wealthy socialite.
Once there, Ellie is introduced to a world of opulence and sophistication, tempted by the allure of grand parties and fine clothes, money and mansions…and by the attentions of a charming suitor who can give her everything. Yet her heart remains with her husband back home. And now she faces the most difficult choice she will ever have to make: a new life in a new country full of hope and promise or return to a life of cruel poverty---and love.
Ellie and John had played together since they were very young children. They spent their days running through fields, laying in the grass and climbing trees. Ellie loved being at John’s house as his family was so very kind to her and treated her like a daughter. Her own mother was a cow of a woman without emotion and didn’t pay any particular attention to Ellie. Ellie felt alone and abandoned. When they were just eighteen they ran off and got married which displeased her parents very much.
John was a soldier and received a serious injury to his leg thereby preventing him from walking. There was an operation to correct his problem but their lack of money prevented him from taking advantage of the opportunity. Ellie’s deep love for, John propelled her to board a vast ship and cross the ocean on her own to work in New York City as a maid for a wealthy socialite. The hours were long and the tasks arduous but Ellie was committed and sent money home to John every month to save for his operation.
During her time in New York, Ellie discovered new friends, a new way of dressing, got herself an updated haircut and for the first time in her life felt that she really fit in somewhere. Then, she met a wealthy man who was more than willing to marry her. He even got her out of maid work, paid for her to a take a course and got her a better paying job.
Finally, John had enough money to have his operation but, Ellie didn’t want to leave New York. She wanted John to come to America and live there so they could have some semblance of a normal life. John, being a solider and having fought for his homeland was not willing to concede and remained in Ireland. What is Ellie going to do? Will she stay in America and marry her new wealthy man or will she return to Ireland to be with John and go back to just subsisting on a meager budget and a difficult life?
Ellis Island was a beautifully written story and I read it in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down. There is also another book that continues this story titled: “City of Hope” but I haven’t yet been able to get a copy.