I am becoming a fan of Cathy Gohlke's books. I have previously read her Promise Me Thisand Secrets She Kept. She seems to have a deeper plot than some other authors, and something else I can't put my finger on.
This book is set in the 1910's, about the immigration of Maureen and her sister from Ireland. Determined to make it on her own after her father's friend is found to have passed away, Maureen takes a position in a department store, narrowly surviving a tragic mistake. Forced to live in less-than-desirable circumstances, Maureen's sister starts to pull away and blame Maureen for their troubles in Ireland. Meanwhile Maureen stubbornly refuses help from those who would be friends.
I was reminded as I read this book of the difficulties facing immigrants, especially women on their own. The city is unforgiving and treacherous to those who don't know it, and filled with preditors.
Two things I was impressed with in the book are, first, the effort a group of first-class women put into helping those who needed it. They called themselves a Band of Sisters. And second, Maureen's efforts in helping both her friends and those in the same dire circumstance. She could have turned a blind eye and remained in ignorant "safety", but she chose to help those who didn't have anyone else to care about them. It truly is an inspiration.
When I began this book, I honestly had no idea how prevalent the human sex trafficking business was and how long it had been going on. I was horrified to realize that such a thing as the white slavery trade was going on in this country in the late 1800's. I am still reeling from the shock of it all.
The Christian message of this book was fantastically woven into the fabric of the story in a remarkable way. I so appreciate the way that Cathy Gohlke made God and Christianity a real thing rather than just something nice on the side. The characters who were truly committed to the Lord, lived it!
The characters were so well-developed, and I connected with them on a real way. I always find it kind of funny when I actually feel like praying for the characters to make it through this situation or that situation when they are not real. But the author made the characters so alive to me that I wanted to do just that.
I appreciate the way the author wrote fairly realistic fiction. Usually, Christian books avoid great tragedies and even mention the dreaded word "sex" or "prostitution." This book handled the issue in a real way, and it made the story all that more real to me.
I was surprised to see the inclusion of the book "In His Steps." It had been a while since I had read that book, but it certainly made for an interesting turn of events. To see the characters living the philosophy "What Would Jesus Do" really did make me stop and think about the cost of following Christ--especially for those in society. This is a book I can recommend to anyone who wants to learn about a portion of history that is not normally discussed in this country.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100 percent mine, and I was not financially compensated.
If you're looking for a page-turner, look no further.
I love books that involve sisters, especially stories full of emotion and angst. I sympathized with Maureen O'Reilly when she was treated unfair and was rooting for her and her sister as they escaped Ireland...to only find new problems.
This story is historical fiction at its best. I felt that it took a long time for the story line to explain the title, but it fell into place. I was disturbed by the actions of the main character when she made questionable choices, but I feel that this was intentional, so we would be warmed by the resolution of the events. I sympathized with Maureen and her good intentions, and Olivia as well. The descriptions were wonderful. I could picture the city, and the factory, and the night-lit streets. I have a somewhat limited knowledge of 1910 New York City, but it felt accurate and believable to me. The plot had some gritty aspects and also a tender treatment of faith and grace. I am very grateful for a clean story with likeable characters.
Band of SistersÃ¢â¬âA Passionate Voice for the Oppress
August 24, 2013
Today's headlines shout of the unspeakableÃ¢â¬ârape, human trafficking, and oppression of the vulnerable. It's all the more difficult to believe of a country whose constitution and laws were written to protect the innocentÃ¢â¬âbut is this a new phenomenon?
In award-winning and best-selling author, Cathy Gohlke's newest novel, Band of Sisters, we learn that today's atrocities are not recent events, but are cruelties which have been around for centuries.
Gohlke takes us back in time to tell the story of the O'Reilly sisters, Maureen and Katie Rose.
In 1910, Maureen and her younger sister flee Ireland, a place for them that only offers a future of compromising servitude. Maureen places her hope for a better life on a new country and a twenty-year old promise made to her father by a stranger, Colonel Wakefield. Still, the promise is better than her and her sister's present reality.
After enduring the challenges and indignities of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died. There is a mix-up with Colonel Wakefield's family, with the end result of the brother-in-law refusing to honor the colonel's debt.
With her sister ill, and now the threat of deportation looming over her, Maureen hatches a plan to obtain employment in a department store that caters to the affluent. It's not long before she stumbles upon an alarming subterfuge at the respectable establishment. Women are disappearing. Maureen's experience as one oppressed by wealthy men, compels her to questionÃ¢â¬âtoo aggressivelyÃ¢â¬âthe disappearances.
Meanwhile, the two sisters struggle to make ends meet as well as to get along. Katie Rose is captivated by the wealthy and is blinded by the frivolous, superficial lifestyles centered on them. She even turns her back on her own sister.
As women continue to disappear, Maureen participates in a dangerous plot headed by her employer's business partner and her friend who has recently emigrated from IrelandÃ¢â¬âand who has loved Maureen for many years.
Maureen is swallowed up by the colossal wave of human trafficking. The scope of its cruelty and deviousness is more than she could imagine or handle. What transpires will have the reader sitting long into the night, gripping the pages with anticipation to see what happens next.
For years, Cathy Gohlke has writtenÃ¢â¬âbeautifully and with great passionÃ¢â¬âthe stories of the oppressed. In Band of Sisters, she digs even deeper to bring to light the depravities of humanity, yet strives to elevate our hearts with hope for God's healing and restoration.
Band of Sisters is also an opportunity to teach us to tune our hearts, minds, and ears to the contemporary problems of human trafficking. By teaching us, we can be like Maureen and not turn away from those in need.
Band of Sisters has become one of my favorite books.