The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.
But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.
Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.
Annie’s Stories is the second in Cindy Thomson’s Ellis Island series, a series about various immigrants who have recently arrived in the United States. These newcomers had mixed fortunes: some came as spouses of American born citizens, while others barely had enough money to prove they wouldn’t become a financial burden to others. Some spoke English, others spoke very little. Some could read and write while others couldn’t. Between 1892 and 1954, Ellis Island was the entrance for millions of immigrants, regardless of their backgrounds. This series began with Grace’s Pictures which was released last year. I’ve not read it but didn’t feel this was an issue. Grace is featured in book two, and apparently Annie was introduced to readers in book one.
While this feels like a breezy read, Thomson touches on some difficult subjects. A continuing theme is Annie’s experience inside one of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries. The fictional narrative is similar to actual testimonies given by the women incarcerated in these asylums. Annie fears her secret will be discovered and she’ll be sent to a similar home in New York. A fellow border, recently arrived from Germany, works at a shirtwaist factory where she is severely assaulted. Her word will mean little against that of her attacker. Meanwhile, her brother is in trouble but doesn’t trust the police. Other characters fall victim to unscrupulous con men and get into financial problems. These are based on the difficulties that immigrants faced.
Scattered throughout the story are quotes from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Although a work of fantasy, it became exceedingly popular. The subject of finding home was one that resonated with both immigrant and American-born readers.
Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for my complimentary electronic copy of Annie’s Stories, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Have you read Annie’s Stories? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 20June 2014
Page Count: 416