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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  130 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In the musty attic of an upstate New York house, a woman finds a clasped box, hidden away for over a century. Inside, wrapped in cambric and tied with a green ribbon, is an old manuscript written by a girl dreaming of a better life, fighting for survival, and coming of age in a time of chaos and danger. This wondrously told tale is a stirring adventure set in nineteenth-ce ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Delacorte Press (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jun 14, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! I could not put it down and actually ended up buying it, just so I could own it (having borrowed it from the library). I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Mar 30, 2010 Bitsy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***SPOILERS - though no more than can be suspected from the book's title***

A young servant that finds work in the kitchens of an estate in the English countryside, Paddy has several secrets that they need to keep in order to survive there: their name, their past, their heritage and even her gender. The story that unfolds is of a young girl’s attempt to escape Ireland during the potato famine and live a free life in America, unfortunately a serious of horrible events result in her being separated
Jul 04, 2014 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. What a brave girl to continue to want to make it to America even if she had to make it by herself. I love the historical background of this novel. I not only remembered some former Irish history but learned about the Jewish area in Rome. I am also about to start book two of this story in America.
Erin W
The story is that of a young, orphaned woman who disguises herself a boy to take on work in a kitchen and raise money for a passage to America. An enjoyable novel, if a bit derivative. When I finally convinced myself to quit picking the threads weaved in from Bronte and Burney and Catharine Maria Sedgwick, I enjoyed it on its own merits.

Ceely makes the refreshing choice of not forcing her two (male and female) protagonists into a romantic relationship just because they are there. She manages to
Jul 17, 2015 Lee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Explained in the preface as an 1848 diary of an Irish immigrant describing her trials in trying to get to America. Most reviews agree that the descriptions of kitchens and food are historically accurate. And that was fascinating, but the story moved too slowly, especially in the dream descriptions.
Jennifer Mash
I loved the descriptions of the work in the kitchen, but I found the plot to be extremely flimsy. A happenstance meeting with an unscrupulous character later in the book was particularly egregious.
Jan 03, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lyrical tale about a starving Irish girl during the potato famine and her fortuitous meeting, tutelage under an Italian Jewish cook in England. Their respective heartbreaking stories are both contrast and Echo. Loved this book.
Jul 15, 2007 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history afficienados
i learned about the irish famine, immigration, life struggles, and prejudices inflicted on the irish. the descriptions of day to day life were quite entertaining. the cooking scenes were very accurate and the descriptions left me with the odors coming from the fireplaces and skullery wafting in my nose. i also learned about the jews in rome and the unjustices that they were forced to bear. the book provided a lot of sociology insight while presenting it in a very readable fashion. not too sappy ...more
Dec 19, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, but the plot seemed to wrap up a little too quickly and neatly in the end.
Feb 02, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I had read this book before the sequel. I still gave it four stars because it was well written and a good story, but the sequel did a good job of recapping the first book, so none of the major plot twists surprised me. That was my own fault, not the authors. Interesting plot with good characters. Between "Mina" and "Bread and Dreams", I liked "Bread and Dreams" better, but I would still recommend reading them in order.
May 03, 2007 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
I recently read Bread & Dreams by the same author & very much enjoyed it. Mina was the first novel in what appears to be a trilogy although the third novel is yet to be completed. Looking forward to digging into it.
Jun 09, 2012 Marylue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well researched novel of a Victorian England estate as experienced by an Irish girl orphaned by the potato famine. Raised a Catholic she learns to respect people of other faiths.
G Gadus
Nov 12, 2010 G Gadus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My all-time favorite! I LOVE this book and its sequel "Bread and Dreams!" The beautiful and amazing story of an Irish immigrant and her protector, a cook.
Anne Ipsen
Dec 02, 2010 Anne Ipsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-novel
Wonderful story about an Irish girl's will to survive the potato famine of the middle nineteenth century and her determination to get to America.
Oct 09, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very nice story, though at times a little slow, it was still worth reading on to see what would happen next.
Jacque Sherbak
Good but not as interesting and lacks the beautiful narrative and romance of the sequel "Bread and Dreams."
Elizabeth Cameron
I loved this!!If you read it don't read the back cover. It kind of ruins it. Just dive right in :)
jessicamax stein
Jun 11, 2008 jessicamax stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
just as addictive as "bread and dreams" -- even having read the sequel first.
May 09, 2008 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. The second book is on to shelf waiting to be read.
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“You love the Pope, don't you, Paddy?" Tom is staring at me.

"Why, I do not know," I say, surprised into honesty. "I hardly know about him. Only he did not send help to us when we were hungry at home. Perhaps he did not know.”
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