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Ellis Island (Ellis Island #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,980 Ratings  ·  409 Reviews
Already a hit in the United Kingdom, Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan is both a poignant love story and a lyrical, evocative depiction of the immigrant experience in early 20th century America. Set in the 1920s, Kerrigan’s novel tells of a young Irish woman who must choose between her new life in New York City and her husband back home in Ireland, brilliantly capturing these ...more
Paperback, 356 pages
Published June 28th 2011 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 2nd 2009)
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3.5 Stars!

The ending of this book really ruined it for me! I was really enjoying it up until the end. The novel was well written but unfortunately it was very predictable! I was hoping for a last minute twist at the end or a bit of controversial behaviour from our heroine, Ellie, but it never happened! That ending was so frustrating!! I felt that Ellie was giving up her dreams and was giving in to a life she didn't really want to lead. (view spoiler)
Aug 20, 2011 Maren rated it did not like it
Maybe it is a little harsh to only give it one star, but the last half (third?) of the book was so ANNOYING that I completely gave up on it. I have so little patience for whiny women who have a wonderful marriage but they just happen to meet an eligible (rich) bachelor who through no fault of hers, I mean it was just innocent flirting, falls in love with her, but she stands her ground and says she is happily married, so they are just best buddies, completely platonic, nothing wrong with that, no ...more
May 21, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
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Overall Review: 4 1/2 stars
I fell in love with Ellis Island after finishing just the first chapter. In fact, I often had to remind myself that I was reading historical fiction and not a true account. Author Kate Kerrigan's rich narration, as well as vibrant descriptions, brought this tale to life. Ellie proved to be a brave and realistic heroine and her love story with husband John was tender and beautiful. Readers will enjoy the quiet beauty of the Irish
Oct 19, 2011 Diane marked it as to-read
Ellie Hogan, the protagonist in Ellis Island is an unforgettable, timeless character. Though set in the 1920s, her struggle between independence and family loyalty, between a modern life in New York and a traditional life back in Ireland, is one that many women today will relate to.

Two key scenes take place on Ellis Island, in the huge building where immigrants were ushered through interviews and health inspections before being allowed into the United States. Anyone who has visited the building,
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
All of us dream someday to find the perfect person to marry. Sometimes we find that person in our very best friend we have grown up with. Now much older we see them in a different light. Once just someone who we would climb trees with, scour the land for small animals and even walk us home from school, now they have matured into something much more. We shared a friendship and a love that isn't known until you find it in your best friend like John Hogan and Ellie Flaherty.

Ellie's spent her childh
Mary Gramlich
Jul 14, 2011 Mary Gramlich rated it it was amazing
ELLIS ISLAND by Kate Kerrigan
06/11 - HarperCollins Publishers - Paperback, 368 pages

Will your heart always find its way home?

Poverty and despair will drive you to make decisions that otherwise you thought impossible. Ellie had to get money so her husband John could have an operation to repair the damage done during an Irish insurrection.

The last place Ellie wanted to leave was Ireland and the worst place to go to would be America. But America had the promise of a well-paying job and the opportun
Tara Chevrestt
Apr 12, 2011 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
This is not really about Ellis Island.. It is about the American Dream though, and Ellis Island was at one time, the first stepping stone to achieving that.

The first quarter of the novel takes place in Ireland, early 1900s. A very young Ellie, age 8, falls in love with her future husband, John, age 10. They grow up together despite their different families. Ellie even starves herself for five days to make her extremely religious parents realize how much she needs John. John is sweeter than all g
Khanh (the Grinch)
Mar 22, 2013 Khanh (the Grinch) rated it it was ok
Shelves: uk
Terrible. Whiny, insipid, stupid heroine and an equally unimpressive husband with whom I can't believe she's in love. Equally unbelievable is how she threw away a future to be with a douchebag who does little to support her or her future. She has to go against his wishes to make anything of herself, and clings onto him no matter what opportunities present itself to her. He ruins her future so many times I've lost count. The only redeeming qualities of the book that bumped it up to 2 stars instea ...more
Jun 13, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: ARC from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Its publication date is 6/28/11 according to Amazon.

In 1920s Ireland, Ellie's husband has been injured fighting for his country's freedom. Ellie makes the tough decision to take a job in New York in order to send back enough money for his operation. The new life she makes for herself in the US changes her, and puts her future life in Ireland in doubt.

I'm trying very hard here not to put in any spoilers, as I think it's pretty
Jade Keller
Aug 06, 2011 Jade Keller rated it really liked it
This book was an enjoyable read, with a nicely-constructed, fast-moving plot. I love the place in history into which it delves and it's another one opening my eyes to the wide world of historical fiction which, until recently, I had thought was too obsessed with European royalty or heavy, depressing tomes.

This, thankfully is neither, but there are a few quibbles I have that prevent me from giving it the full 5 stars. First, the beginning of the book is a bit spare in the luscious detail of setti
Dec 26, 2010 DubaiReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ew-pm-bk-grp, 2010
Rural life in Ireland vs high life in New York.

My main problem with this book is not the book itself but the excess of information we are given on the back cover. I would have preferred to have been left wondering what decision Ellie would make - whether to embrace her newfound life in New York or return to her childhood sweetheart and the hardships of her native Ireland. If you feel the same way then read no further and don't read the back of the book!

Oct 13, 2011 Roz rated it really liked it
We always seem to think about people coming to America seeking a new and better life. Never going back to their country of origin. But this couldn’t be completely true. Surely people came for other reasons just as they do today. Of course many came to escape poverty, persecution, politics and the like. But they also came just as Ellie Hogan did, to work and make money to send home to those left behind, to ease their loved ones’ lives, in her case to pay for needed health care.
Not every one stay
Most immigration stories discuss the reasons one leaves a homeland for a foreign country, the hardships endured along the way and eventually some form of resolution of life in the new country. Everything about Ellis Island breaks the mold of immigration novels and forges its own path. Ultimately, the story is much richer for it.

The first half of the novel follows the traditional story-telling format. Girl meets boy, girl marries boy. The happily-ever-after, however, does not come, as both John
Jul 27, 2010 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn so I was instantly drawn to this similar tale of emigration from Kate Kerrigan but are they perhaps too alike to be read so close together? Indeed should they be compared at all given that they are most definitely two different genres?

Anyway, back to Ellis Island for a while at least…our lead character, Eileen, known as Ellie, is forced to leave the abject poverty of her rural Irish background to seek employment in 1920s New York. Whilst she is amazed
Mary Q.
Jan 16, 2016 Mary Q. rated it really liked it
Most fiction I read simply for pleasure so in general if it pulls me into the story and entertains me I'm happy. This book is an easy read and moved quickly. My one complaint had to do with Ellie's flip flopping about John. She loves him, then she resents him. She wants to go back to America but decides to stay in Ireland and be the good farmer's wife. She's unhappy but then seems to accept the simple rural life with John. She gets a letter from an old friend in New York and she's questioning h ...more
Sarah Zama
Sep 16, 2014 Sarah Zama rated it it was ok
Shelves: jazz-age-fiction
I picked this story because it presents a few elements I like: it’s an historical novel, it’s set in the Twenties, it has an Irish protagonist. It’s the story of an Irish immigrant to Roaring Twenties America, I thought it was going to be a journey of discovery, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. The contrast between Irish rural life and the boasting modern life of Twenties New York promised to be exiting and interesting.


Maybe I was expecting too much, but where this story pre
Brenda Knight
Sep 11, 2011 Brenda Knight rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were so well developed and interesting. The love story of Ellie and John was so deep and true. The only reason Ellie went to America was to earn money to pay for John's necessary surgery. She was so strong and worked so hard to learn a trade so she could earn more money to send home. I understand why she wanted to stay in New York and wanted John to join her. But I also understood John's position and his reasons to want Ellie to come back to him and the ...more
Jul 21, 2013 ☕Laura rated it it was ok
This book held so much promise for me from the opening line of Chapter One: "The first time I fell in love with John, I was eight and he was ten." I expected to be swept away in John and Ellie's story. I expected to be rooting for their love to survive life's twists and turns. I expected hardships and difficult choices. But alas, this was not to be. Though the story told of Ellie and John's love, the writing didn't convey any real emotion for me, and the characters' behavior seemed inconsistent. ...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
Nov 05, 2011 MaryannC.Book Fiend rated it it was amazing
When I first began this book, I admit I wasnt wholeheartedly into it. But,as I started paying attention I couldnt put it down. This is the story of Ellie Hogan who journeys to America from Ireland in hopes of earning money to help her husband pay for a surgery he needs. It is filled with vivid descriptions of an immigrant's journey to find a new life and prosperity in America. In her quest to earn the money she needs, she is torn by the trappings of wealth and sophistication she encounters and s ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Beth rated it it was ok
Recommended to Beth by: Amazon
Based on the description I couldn't wait for this book to be released and was very excited to start reading once it downloaded into my kindle.. Very disappointed though, I never cared about any of the characters. There was so much historical material to cover that the author just touched upon bits and pieces. Was it about Irish history of the 1920? New York history? Women's rights? the financial boon of the 20s? Some of it was narration, some of the story was told in letters but there were huge ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Theresa rated it it was amazing

I loved this book!

I have Irish in my family, great-great-(not-sure-how-many-time-great)-grandparents, who came over in the mid-1800's and settled here in America. So I already had a deep interest in reading a historical fiction type of novel about what it would have been like to emigrate to America.

What does a woman do when she is torn between love of country and family loyalty?

Eileen did not have a happy childhood. A stern religious father and a mother who did not show outward affection...not a
Yes, I loved this book and it quite poignantly told an emigrant/immigrant story from Ireland to New York from around the decade of the 1920s.

Ellie does not exactly fit the match of the ‘typical emigrant’ in that she wanted to use a trip to America to better her life and prospects but she didn’t count on staying. To give some the novel a more romantic nature and pull, Ellie finds herself caught between earning money to send back to Ireland (to essentially help her injured Irish republican husband
Gina Basham
May 26, 2013 Gina Basham rated it it was amazing
I enjoy historical fiction and this book was no exception. I liked the character development, the attention to detail and the vivid descriptions. I have read reviews, good and bad, based solely on the ending. I think the joy is in the getting there. Whether you liked the ending or not you have to agree the story was well written and engaging. I had no issue with the ending and am looking forward to reading more from this author. I would recommend.
Elizabeth Oladunni
Jun 05, 2014 Elizabeth Oladunni rated it liked it
Shelves: leisure-reads
Overall, it was a good book.

To be honest, I didn't plan on reading Ellis Island, it was on sale at the library at a ridiculously cheap price, and I liked the name of the book - so I bought it.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy it. It was a light read, definitely one to read on the beach to pass time. I like the little references to the political climate of Island at that time, but that was not the focus of the book. I have to admit, I think Kerrigan handled the shift in setting brilliantly, I could feel t
A. R.
Oct 13, 2014 A. R. rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It wasn't your typical poor girl goes to America and finds love and riches story. In fact, there was such an element of realism to it that I found it refreshing!

Ellis Island is the story of young Irish girl, who grows up and marries her childhood sweetheart. When he is injured fighting for the IRA, she goes to the United States and works to earn money so her husband can have the medical treatment he needs. What was supposed to be a one year separation, turns much longer
Jo Barton
Aug 15, 2010 Jo Barton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this lovely book 10 stars I would. Captivated from the opening page I loved the journey made by Ellie, from her childhood in a repressed Catholic home, through her courtship and subsequent marriage to her childhood sweetheart, and her journey of discovery in New York.
The whole book just worked on all levels - one of my favourite reads of the year so far !
Nov 01, 2014 Jenna rated it liked it
This novel started out good and pulled me right in. I loved the concept and if I were Ellie I probably would have been mesmerized by all the glitz and glamour of a big city in America if I had come from poverty ridden Ireland. But once Ellie got there and settled in she transformed into a completely different character I could hardly stand to read about. Her and her husband John decided she would travel to American and for one year then she was to return home. When you begin to part one and it's ...more
Oct 08, 2014 patricia rated it it was amazing
Eileen (Ellie) and John loved each other from childhood. Ellie's parents were not affectionate people. John is an orphan raised by his warm and loving aunt and uncle. They marry and John is injured in the fight for Irish independance. Ellie sails off to the United States to work as a maid to pay for John's surgery. She falls in love with the American life she has. It's a far cry from rural Irish poverty. Although she begs John to come he is Irish to the core. When forced to return Ellie once mor ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Kay rated it really liked it
This is a sweet novel; light escapism with a touch of romance and a bit of wondering what will happen. It follows Ellie, from her Irish small town upbringing in 1908, to her immigration to New York to earn money for her husband John back home. I especially enjoyed the feelings she was able to convey -- the magic of New York with it's constant hustle and bustle and it's promise of hope and growth. She did an excellent job of contrasting that with the sameness and solidity of rural farm life in Ir ...more
Apr 19, 2014 Carol rated it it was ok
This was a selection for my book club & that's the only reason I read this trite novel. SPOILER ALERT. The reason it was a quick read is because the author would introduce a topic or a character, give it a few pages and move on. I got tired of the main character, Ellie. Maybe she was just supposed to be a confused young woman. She meets her future husband at age 8 in Ireland during the 1920's - they grow up & elope - she goes to America to earn money - falls in love with NY - becomes a s ...more
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Coffee Talk: Oct 2014 Book of the Month--Ellis Island 26 21 Nov 01, 2014 06:00PM  
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Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, The Miracle of Grace, Ellis Island, City of Hope, Land of Dreams and The Lost Garden.

Kate began her career as an editor and journalist, editing many of Britain’s most successful young women’s magazines before returning to her native Ireland in the 1990’s to edit Irish Tatler. She writes a weekl
More about Kate Kerrigan...

Other Books in the Series

Ellis Island (3 books)
  • City of Hope (Ellis Island, #2)
  • Land of Dreams (Ellis Island, #3)

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“In this way, I was able to place my own concerns aside and curl myself up in the cocoon of somebody else's imagination. My life was suspended - I was in neither one place nor the other.” 15 likes
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