Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan

City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan continues the story of Ellie Hogan which started in the novel Ellis Island (my review). When we leave Ellie in Ellis Island, she has returned home to Ireland following the death of her father and is reunited there with her husband, John. City of Hope picks up a number of years later, still in Ireland, and Ellie has made her mark on the rural village in which she and John live. She has a number of small business and is as independent as ever. When John dies suddenly, Ellie, despite her apparent strength, can't cope. She flees Ireland and arrives back in New York City, now in the throes of the Depression.

Ellie Hogan is strong-willed and relishes her independence. Beneath that hard exterior, however, Ellie has a strong love for her husband and even curtails some of her grand ideas to align to her husband's desire for a more humble lifestyle. She is devastated when John dies suddenly of a heart attack and feels some guilt since she had been more focused on getting to town to check in on one of her businesses on the day John died than on spending time with him. In a rash act, Ellie flees Ireland following the funeral and heads to NY - she can't bear her grief in Ireland and is desperate for distraction.  There is much to distract her in NY but it is not what she expected. The NY she left was glittering with parties, fashionable clothes and beautiful homes; she returns to NY in the Depression and she is surrounded by desperation with families living on the streets.

Ellie soon finds her purpose among the needy in NY and starts refurbishing derelict homes and taking in needy families. Ellie gets to further bury her grief while staying so busy and the families gain some dignity as they work for Ellie refurbishing and running the homes. Soon she has launched small businesses including a bakery and uses the profits to further her initiative of providing homes for the needy. Despite the satisfaction Ellie gets from her good works, she is running from her grief and it is always on the verge of catching up to her.

My Thoughts
As with Ellis Island, I was drawn into City of Hope and the story the author weaved. I found myself rooting for the families that Ellie "rescued" and enjoyed watching their redemption as they contributed to helping other families in need. Although baffled by Ellie's choices at times, I couldn't help but cheer for her too and admired her strength and willingness to "just get it done".  I felt sorry for Ellie, too, both for her loss and for her inability to be honest with herself and those around her about her grief. As a reader, I knew she could not outrun her grief and dreaded the moment at which it would catch up with her.

City of Hope is a fabulous follow-up to Ellis Island and I loved the continuation of Ellie's story. It does, however, stand on it's own. If you enjoy immigrant stories, historical fiction or stories of redemption, you will love City of Hope!

You can read other reviews of the book from those on the TLC Tour.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing an ARC as part of the tour.


  1. Great review! I loved this book too and believe it stands on its own. What I found most interesting was that while I couldn't understand some of the things Ellie did (running away), I still liked the character; that does not usually happen for me. It speaks well to Kerrigan's skill as a writer. Can't wait for the third book!

  2. I have this one on my list and am glad to know that you enjoyed it. Terrific review, Colleen!

  3. I'm adding both books to my TBR list. Thanks, Colleen.

  4. Oh wow, I didn't realize it was a followup to Ellis Island -- need to read that once first. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ellis Island is currently $1.99 in ebook so it is a good time to catch up on the series!

  5. Oh, how I love a good immigrant story. You've made me want to read this and Ellis Island.

  6. I too like immigrant stories - maybe because my three children are!

  7. Looks like I need to add both Ellis Island and this book to my TBR list!

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  8. I was just not a huge fan of Ellis Island - I wanted to be though. I REALLY wanted to be. Just because I did read the first one, I would be curious to pick this one up eventually. I'm glad you liked it because it does give me hope!

  9. Glad to see you enjoyed this one. I liked it, too (my review is up today). Ellie left me shaking my head at times, but at least I was able to understand her. I think Kerrigan has done a great job with this character. I can't wait for the next book!

  10. I have got to read these two books--I read your review of Ellis Island, and vowed I would read it, not I have to renew my vow!

    I like complex characters that leave me baffled :)

  11. Just bought Ellis Island...thanks for the 1.99 heads up :) Ellie frustrated me especially in the beginning. I thought at first I was going to be reading a story about a spoiled woman who doesn't see the value in what she has until it's too late (the end of the book). Thankfully, by about 100 pages in I realized that wasn't going to happen, relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the book.