I loved this story, and the pages almost turned themselves. We begin in County Meath Ireland, not far from Dublin where the O'Reilly sister's [Maureen and Katie Rose] have just buried their Mother.
Their Dear Aunt, their Mother's sister, loves them and helps them with some money to leave Ireland and come to the US.
Their adventure has begun!! Along with them immigrating is a young fellow they know named Joshua Keenan, who Maureen does not trust. She actually doesn't trust anyone, and is trying to take care of her thirteen
year old sister. What the sister's do have is a letter from Colonel Wakefield, stating he wants to set her Dad's son in business. He is indebted to him for saving his life! When Maureen goes to his home she finds that he has died and is crulely turned away by Drake Meitland, who burns her letter.
Now Maureen's is penniless and without home or job. She does have a friend in Mrs Melkford, from the Missionary Aid Society, she is Heaven sent.
Maureen also met a shady character, she could tell by his smile, Jamie Flynn, who thrust $30 at her and tells her where she can obtain a job. After what has happened she goes and gets a clerking job at Darcy's Department Store. When things start to not add up and some of her friends begin to go missing, she doesn't know what to do.
Olivia Wakefield and her Sister Dorothy belong to a Church Group to help people. They decide to read In His Step's by Charles Sheldon, "What Would Jesus Do". Olivia also attempts to find anything she can in her Dad's paper's about the O'Reilly's. In the end she tries to find Maureen and Katie Rose.
I found Katie Rose to not be very endearing...like a spoiled brat, but considering the poverty they came from in Ireland, and what they are now experiencing in the US, I kind of understand.
We are about to journey to the dark underground of life in the US...White Slavery. Cathy Gohlke has worked this subject into this story in such a way that it touches today's current problems.
While I could not put this book down until the end, some of the injustice is still happening. I would love to able to sit down and be with these strong woman, and find out what happens in later life.
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.
I was so excited to read this book! As a huge fan of historical fiction, this book was exactly the type of thing I look for, and Cathy Gohlke does historical fiction brilliantly. To research this particular subject- early 20th century immigration and human trafficking- Gohlke traveled to Ellis Island and toured the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, as well as explored the Lower East Side itself. Her dedicated research paid off with rich detail and vivid imagery. I was able to clearly picture the main character, Maureen O'Reilly, and her sister's journey from their tiny village in County Meath, Ireland, to their first steps on Ellis Island. Their American experience starts out bad and just gets worse for them both. Maureen must leave her sister at Ellis Island in quarantine with the chicken pox and do whatever it takes to ensure they both aren't deported for being single women. Her desperation leads her into more danger than she fled Ireland from. When she notices her young female coworkers start going missing from their department store jobs, Maureen knows something wicked must be going on and is recruited to help take down a ring of human traffickers. Band of Sisters is a page turner to the very end.
Cathy Gohlke is a master of powerful stories- after reading Promise Me This, I knew Band of Sisters was not going to be a fluffy, frivolous read. As it deals with such a tough subject, this really is not the best book for younger readers, but it is a powerful wake-up call to all of us. Band of Sisters is divided into two parts; I like the second half best. For the first half, I found Maureen a bit annoying. She had had such a hard, unforgiving life and I don't blame her for her mistrust of men. All the same, I felt she was extremely bitter and stubborn, and frankly, hard to like. This is why I like the second half- she's finally decided to trust. Instead of doubting everyone, the characters have started to realize what's going on around them and what they need to do to stop it.
Olivia was entirely different than Maureen, and much more likable. Katie Rose, Maureen's sister, was SO stubborn- that is a trait she and Maureen definitely shared. In part 1 of the book, I didn't blame her. Personally, I felt her anger at her sister was in some ways justified, as Maureen was not being entirely honest in explaining to Katie Rose what was going on, and I was angry at her, too! However, after Maureen told Katie Rose what was going on, and then Katie Rose blamed Maureen for it, well, my frustration shifted subjects. The book did, of course, reach a highly satisfactory conclusion.
Overall, I felt Band of Sisters achieved what I believe the author set out to do- expose the terrible crime of human trafficking that is still going on today.
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
1910 Ireland. As Maureen and Katie Rose O'Reilley climb the muddy path up the hillside to cemetery where her mother is to buried the women attending the burial shun Maureen. Even though Maureen had been raped and brutally used by her landlord Lord Orthbridge the women still treated her like a harlot. With her mother's passing she did not know how she was to protect her young sister from her landlord's desires and abuse. She heard rumored that his young son is already after Katie Rose's skirt tales.
After the funeral Maureen's Aunt Verna unfurls a plan to get Maureen and Katie Rose out of Ireland, but they must move quickly with the plan. Her aunt tells of a close friend of Maureen's long deceased father that had sent money to have her father and his family to come to America and become his business partner. Colonel Wakefield saw O'Reilly as a brother and his children as his own. Maureen's aunt still has the money . She gives the money along with a letter from Wakefield to Maureen for the girls to make the trip to America so they will be safe with Colonel Wakefield.
The arriving at Ellis Island!
Joshua Keeton, a young man in her village, is about Maureen's age and has already made plans to go to America. Her aunt has arranged for the girls to travel to America with him. As soon as they get to the shipyard Maureen refuses any more of his assistance and takes her sister in hand to travel the voyage to America alone. She trusts no one! Especially men!
Katie Rose ends up catching Chicken Pox is held at the infirmary at Ellis Island until to gets well and Maureen must find residents and employment before they will approve her release. She fears they will be returned to Ireland.
She lucks out and has been given some assistance by a lady of the Missionary Aid Society to get her the proper clothes and make sure she has a place to stay and employment.
When she arrives at Colonel Wakefield's she is rudely treated by a man that claims the Colonel is deceased and that she has no claim to the family and he burns her letter in the fireplace and boots the screaming Maureen out the door like a piece of trash.
But as this was happening Olivia daughter of Colonel Wakefield was disgusted by the way her brother-in-law Drake had treated the young women in Olivia's home. He had no right no right at all. She must find this woman so she can find out what kind of connection she has with her father. She will not stop until she finds the poor women. Her guest, Curtis Morrow witnessed this event and promised to do what he could to help find the O'Reilley woman.
It just keeps getting worse for Maureen. Will she be able to find employment? Will poor Katie Rose be sent back to Ireland?
The author wrote a wonderful story of the plight of immigrant women in New York that are just arriving at Ellis Island. Any lone woman was at the mercy of evil men as soon as they stepped foot on American soil. Tricking the women into thinking they could be trusted to help them find employment and a place to stay. There were women being accosted for white slavery and forced to work in brothels and on the streets.
The chances of getting a decent job was minimal. If money was sparse then so was food and shelter. The character of Olivia Wakefield was a woman that was determined to fight for the protection and the rights of these women and against white slavery.
I knew things back then were difficult for women but I really had no idea it was that bad. I want to thank the author for opening my eyes. It has given me so much love and respect for the women that fought the long hard battle for women's rights and eventually won.
I devoured the information she provided in the question and answers she so graciously shared with us. I am eager to do more research on this subject. I am of Irish decent and know my ancestors went through Ellis Island. I have taken this story very personally. I thank Cathy for bringing to to my attention.
I highly recommend this book!
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my own opinion.
Band of Sisters, crafted by Cathy Gohlke, reads like a thrilling movie. There are echoes of the film Far and Away but this book has a razor sharp edge. The main character, Maureen O'Reilly, is independent and fiesty- even hard at times. She carries a past that she fears will haunt her forever. Maureen and her sister, Katie Rose, flee to America in hopes of starting a new life, but there are perils that await them there, too. Not all is as seems and soon Maureen is caught in a web of secrets and treachery. She gains employment at an elegant department store but soon discovers that coworkers are disappearing. What has happened to them and why does no one seem to care? Not wanting to endanger any of her friends, Maureen is left to turn to God, who she felt left her long ago.
Band of Sisters is a story that I never wanted to end. It was exciting, romantic, even frightening at times. The characters were so real I wanted to cast them! Emma Stone would play Maureen, Joshua would be played by Ryan Reynolds, Ashley Greene would be Katie Rose, and Ian Somerhalder would be Drake (a villain you love to hate!). I'll get back to you on the rest of the cast.:)
Let me leave you with this thought. Band of Sisters will make you think, make you feel and stay with you long after the last page. The book addresses the theme of white slavery and sadly it's alive and well in this day and age. Band of Sisters entertains, inspires and educates. Bravo, Cathy Gohlke!