Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Passions of Emma” as Want to Read:
The Passions of Emma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Passions of Emma

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  395 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Born to a life of wealth and privilege in turn-of-the-century Rhode Island, Emma Tremayne's life is all mapped out for her--including her engagement to the town's most eligible bachelor. Emma's sheltered world is shattered, however, when she discovers the horrifying working conditions in her fiance's textile mill. And when she encounters Shay McKenna, a brave Irish revolut ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Vision (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Passions of Emma, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Passions of Emma

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dinjolina
This book hurt.
People called it marvelous. They called it the book of second chances.

I call it the book of second best.

Sure, it was written beautifully.
But from the start I knew where it will go, so all the sly little glances Shay gave Emma or all the thoughts of love Emma had? I never saw them as obscene, but they bugged me. They were sweet on one side but on the other almost every time Shay just went in to the next scene, picked up his wife, and twirled her around because it made her happy or
...more
Bark's Book Nonsense
Oct 11, 2010 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance
Ouch, this book was painful to read. It's vivid scenes and raw emotion lingered with me long after I turned the last page.

The plot sounds horribly depressing and there's no doubt that this is painful stuff but I wouldn't have put it down for anything. Rich in detail and emotion, it's moving and uplifting and tender and such a very beautiful story about love and friendship, THE PASSIONS OF EMMA is one of the best books I've read this year. Just grab yourself a box of tissues before starting it .
...more
Fani loves angst
Shay McKenna is a poor, Irish immigrant working odd jobs to make a living. Emma Tremayne is filthy rich and comes from one of Bristol's best families: the Great Folk. Their match seems a highly improbable one and that is if you don't count the fact that Shay's already happily married with Bria and have two girls together. But then we learn early on that Bria is suffering from consumption, which of course makes it obvious that one day she'll die and leave the road open for Shay's and Emma's roman ...more
Regan Walker
Feb 24, 2012 Regan Walker rated it it was amazing
Possibly My Favorite Historical Romance--a Keeper!

I always know when I read a story by Penny Williamson that I'm going to feel deeply about the people she introduces me to and I know I'm going to be swept away to another time and a great love story. I knew I was in trouble with this one when I was in tears by page 20--but I could not put it down.

This is one of the most moving historical romances I've read. If you've ever loved a man who loved a woman before you, or if you've ever loved a man you
...more
Jeri
Dec 13, 2010 Jeri rated it it was amazing
Emma Tremayne is one of the "Great Folk" of Bristol; her family and those like it owning the land and businesses of the town. She isn't passionate about much of anything until a series of encounters with two Irish immigrants show her a different life. Shay McKenna, rough, outspoken, even at times hostile, disturbs her in a way she cannot understand, while his wife Bria becomes the first real friend Emma has ever known. Bria is dying of consumption, and her death will bring
together the two people
...more
Dawn
I just finished this book and am so glad I picked this one up, though knowing nothing about the author. I thoroughly enjoyed EVERYTHING about this book. The writing, the plot, the characters, the setting. Everything!

The characters are fully fleshed and real. The plot is one that sucks you in and makes you care. The writing is smooth and compelling. I dived into this not sure what it would yield and was soon so immersed in the developing saga that I lost track of time and place while I read.

I was
...more
tess75
J'ai longtemps hésité avant de commencer cette romance. Je souhaitais lire une romance historique qui sorte un peu des champs battus ou qui, en tout cas, ne soit pas dans le style de celles d'aujourd'hui.
Je n'avais jamais lu un roman de Penelope Williamson auparavant mais j'ai été ravie par cette histoire.
Pour une "old" romance, l'héroïne est indépendante et son amour pour Shay/Seamus est touchant sans être trop guimauve. L'auteur a rendu compte avec précision du contexte de l'époque tout en pr
...more
Julie
Oct 22, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
This book left me with so many emotions. I give this book four stars because it started off pretty slow but after you get to know Emma,Bria and Shay you truly get to know the heart and soul of this story. I truly enjoyed this amazing journey of true friendship and love and when I say love I mean a true love story. This is not your typical romance love story...
KC
4.5 stars

I enjoyed this more than I thought possible. Historical fiction isn't my go-to genre (the main focus wasn't on the romance even though there's a HEA). But mainly, I shied away because I knew of the love triangle that made the hero unavailable for most of the book. (view spoiler)
...more
BR11
This is probably one of my favorite books of all time. It has something that gets me every single time I read it.
It's not steamy yet the passion and desperation are so palpable and real.
This story is so poignant and well written that it absorbs you and makes you feel alongside its characters.
This is a story about love and friendship. About Emma's passions, but also about Shay's and Bria's. It's a book about the different shades of love.
It's not your traditional romance but one very much so. In
...more
Jen
This.book.was.hard.to.take. On many levels.

I normally love this trope: widower hero has a second chance at love. Don't get me wrong, I understand you can love more then one person in your life and love each person differently. But, reading about Bria and Shay's love and life together for 3/4 of the book was hard.to.take. The struggles and pain they faced in Ireland as well as trying to build a new life in America for their family. We watch Shay's love for Bria through whispered words, tender mo
...more
Sonia De la rosa
Pasión prohibida es un libro que no solamente nos cuenta una historia de amor... en ella encontraremos la historia de dos mujeres que su procedencia y su posición social hacia imposible que se llegaran a conocer y mucho menos hacerse amigas pero ya sea por el azar o por el destino sus caminos se cruzaron dando lugar a una amistad duradera que ni la muerte haría que se dejaran de querer.

Emma Tremayne es una rica heredera de Rhode Island que su vida transcurre entre bailes, compras y tardes de vis
...more
Laura
"The Passions of Emma" is not a book pitting a self-less, desperate heroine against an unforgiving/hostile world; it doesn't have a clear cut villain (although arguments could be made for a few characters); it doesn't have a hero who rides in to rescue the helpless heroine and save the day! All of the characters are flawed in some way. In other words, its not a cookie cutter romance novel. And thank god for small blessings.

What we have instead is a book that questions following social conventio
...more
Lizzy
Jan 03, 2015 Lizzy rated it it was amazing
Que leitura esplêndia. Penelope Williamsom me impressionou desde o livro The Outsider, no entanto esse me envolveu igualmente. A escrita é fantástica, ambientação riquíssima, tudo em detalhes sem ser cansativo. Cada personagem, sejam coadjuvantes ou protagonistas, possuem um momento em destaque. Suas almas são desnudadas ao leitor para que tenhamos nosso próprio ponto de vista. São personagens muito humanos e díspares, com seus segredos e por vezes carregados de culpa e ressentimentos, com quest ...more
Cookie Moretti
Aug 17, 2016 Cookie Moretti rated it really liked it
This story was long, confusing and painful. I'm not sure if I love it or hate it.

Emma...I liked her...and didn't like her. One minute I'm cheering for her to keep on being brave and the next I'm not liking her cause she's such a mary sue. Til the end she let her mother step all over her without sticking up for herself. And her sister...I didn't like her either. Maddie was bitter, and jealous. She had her own happy ending I guess bu she didn't deserve it after she tattled on the sister she claime
...more
Greentea
Mar 27, 2014 Greentea rated it it was ok
"I love Another. I have taken a lover and, oh, by the by, he is a poor lad from Gartadoo"

When you fall in love with someone, you get hit pretty hard.

Emma Tremayne didn't mean to fall in love with Shay McKenna. It just happened simple because she was around him more due to being friend's with Shay's wife, Bria. Of course I was rooting for Emma and Shay, so I wanted Bria to be dead as soon as possible. I'm horrible, yes I know. SO.....
Why in the world was Shay with Bria anyway? Shay wasn't descri
...more
Jacky Faber
Aug 03, 2014 Jacky Faber rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Fanofwoodiwiss
Nov 08, 2015 Fanofwoodiwiss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a brave woman is Eamma

I'm a sucker for women that are afraid of going against what is expected and doing it anyway. Emma was born to privilege and luxury so what did she know of hard work and making her own choices? How could she love a penniless Irish emigrate fisherman? Fearlessly and with all her heart. The story of Shay and Eamme finding their way to that once in a lifetime love is a heartbreaking ,heart racing kind of story that is hard to find in romance novels today. This is one of a
...more
Phair
Re-read for a f2f discussion. First read around time of publication (circa 1998). Reason for club selection was Rhode Island setting. While this was basically an historical romance it was better written than most and brought up many issues such as women's place, social prejudice re immigrants, child labor and conditions in textile mills in 1890s Bristol. The descriptions of the setting were spot-on and I could easily visualize the places mentioned. Author's The Outsider was more romantic but th ...more
Awagner
Jul 20, 2011 Awagner rated it really liked it
I wasn't that into it for the first few pages, but then I started to realize that I had read this book before! I still couldn't even remember what happened but once the plot started to unfold more I remembered that I had already read this book a long, long time ago. After those first few pages, I started to really get into it and read the last 150 pages in bed until 2am last night. I wanted so much more to happen though I felt like it ended without a few thigns happening that I was hoping for. O ...more
Maura
Aug 23, 2012 Maura rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Tear jerker. Set in Rhode Island 1890 Irish immigrants learn how to change and grow because of necessity. The heroine has great compassion and depth. The hero has to overcome social and internal obstacles to love the heroine. I liked the setting and characters. It was a sad read but worth it.


o
Linda
Jul 13, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it
My heart broke reading this book. I knew how it would end, but it took so much to get there. I loved all the characters, and could vidily picture them in my mind.
Great writing and descriptive work. I would read this one again.
Alberta
May 31, 2013 Alberta rated it it was ok
The romance novel takes place in the 1800's in Rhode Island. Emma is suppose to marry a man of her class but falls in love with another man.
When I got to 100 pages of the book, I almost quite reading it but did finish it
Lindsey
Nov 22, 2015 Lindsey rated it really liked it
This was not my usual choice of books but it was lent to me so I figured, why not? I'm glad I gave this book a chance-Emma's emotions as she struggled against what was expected of her in 1800s Rhode Island society captivated me. This was a fantastic example of historical romance.
Vikki
Oct 09, 2011 Vikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emma Tremayne is a rich girl. She is engaged to a rich man. She meets Bria McKenna, an immigrant from Ireland and they become fast friends. Bria dies. Emma has fallen in love with Bria's husband, Shay. This is a very good story.
Adriana
Adriana rated it liked it
Apr 06, 2012
Jessica
Jessica rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2010
SayAyeAmAGirl
SayAyeAmAGirl rated it it was ok
May 10, 2013
Jessie Peterson
Jessie Peterson rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2014
Emma
Emma rated it liked it
Feb 02, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Whispers of Heaven
  • Lions and Lace (Van Alen Sisters #1)
  • Wild Oats (Wild Oats, #1)
  • Wild at Heart
  • A Hearing Heart
  • I Do, I Do, I Do
  • Dancing on Coals
  • Broken Wing
  • Always to Remember
  • The Bride Hunt (Conqueror, #1)
  • The Hostage (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #1)
  • Seize the Fire
  • The Windflower
  • A Candle in the Dark
  • Sunshine and Shadow
18485
Penelope Williamson is an internationally renowned author of historical romance and suspense. Penelope Williamson was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and spent the first eleven years of her life as an US Air Force brat. She has a B.A. in history, an M.A. in broadcast journalism, and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years, where she reached the rank of Captain. She has more than 1.8 million books in ...more
More about Penelope Williamson...

Share This Book



“Shay," she said. "Shay McKenna," as if trying out his name, saying it for the first time. "Did you ever love me, even a little?"

Love you?" He turned his head and brushed his lips across her fingers. "I'm loving you now, mo chridh. After I'm dead, a thousand years from now, whatever's left of me, be it a soul or just a handful of dust, that will be loving you.”
4 likes
“We are all of us both light and dark, do you not find it so, Miss Tremayne? Wanting in our hearts to do right and able to do wrong. And so it’s the choices we’ve made, surely, that make of us what we are” 0 likes
More quotes…