Wednesday, June 13, 2012
by Cathy Gohlke
Genre: fiction, historical
It's 1910 in Ireland and Maureen O-Reilly's mother has just passed away. Left to care for her 13 year old sister, Katy Rose, and with a very serious threat looming Maureen and Katy Rose flee to America. Trying to get through Ellis Island proves to be extremely daunting and Maureen has to leave her ill sister to find work and establish herself in the new land. She has a 30 year old letter from an American friend of her father promising an inheritance and a place to live. When Maureen goes to the now deceased Colonel Wakefield's house she is quickly dismissed by a son-in-law. What she doesn't know is that her visit will begin a remarkable journey in herself and also in Olivia Wakefield (daughter of the Colonel).
Alone, desperate, and scared Maureen lies about her references to connive a job at a prominent department store. She quickly realizes that underneath the polish and glamor there is something very mysterious and dangerous going on. When girls begin disappearing from the store Maureen starts to ask questions. Little does she know the danger in her questions and the danger that lurks for every vulnerable woman in the city.
Olivia Wakefield knows very little about Maureen or her father but decides to read through her father's old journals to gather what information she can. As she reads she finds out about the influence of Mr. O-Reilly in her family's life. Determined to honor her father's wishes she begins to search for Maureen. She also is in the process of gathering her group of friends and having them ask the question, "what would Jesus do?" that will ultimately be the basis for how they live their lives.
As more information regarding the missing women is discovered a band of sisters emerges that fights for injustice and for answers. Thrust into danger and evil Maureen must decide whom she will trust and if that God she keeps hearing about could truly love a person such as herself.
This book is rich with characters and story lines. I could keep typing for hours and still have more to say. Beyond the mystery and danger there is of course a theme of romance throughout. It is well handled and well developed. Gohlke has written an extremely intricate and compelling story. Pulling stories from modern headlines and placing them in 1910 is very clever and works. I was hooked. Band of Sisters is a very well-written book. I was up late reading this one. Maureen is excellently developed and is a clear picture of a very wounded person in need of grace. There are times where her character seems overly filled with angst but that's easy to overlook. The story of grace and love throughout is really quite beautiful. The historical aspects regarding Ellis Island and the challenges of immigrants at that time is done well. This was my first read from Gohlke and I am already anxious to read more from her. She is well on her way to being an excellent story-teller.
Thanks to Tyndale Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.