A heartening novel of the immigrant experience—and of redemption, self-sacrifice, and the power of hope when all else seems lost.
Irish immigrant Katie O’Connor and her younger sister, Shannon, risk everything to journey to America at the turn of the twentieth century. As each woman passes into an intimidating, stirring, and unpredictable New York City, she is forced to rethink her dream of a better life. It isn’t until Katie begins serving the sick in the depressed slums of the Bowery alongside Dr. Titus Brentwood that she discovers her true calling. Meanwhile, fate directs the vulnerable Shannon down an unsettling path that could put her life at risk.
As Katie’s and Ty’s selflessness and devotion turn into something deeper, Ty must make a choice that could save one O’Connor sister at the expense of losing the other. But Katie hasn’t come this far to let go now. She’ll do anything to save Shannon and hold on to the man she’s come to love.
While I’ve not read anything by Renee Ryan previously (and apparently she’s written a lot), the plot sounded interesting. Therefore, I chose to download it from NetGalley.
In 1905, the immigration process was much different than it was today, and I’m thankful for the changes that have taken place. In Renee Ryan’s engaging novel, she describes what new arrivals to the country experienced. This included a brutal medical examination, where you could be detained simply because you were seasick on the voyage over. This is what Katie O’Connor went through upon her arrival from Ireland, and it’s thanks to a young volunteer doctor that she was released promptly. Now, a year later, her sister is also detained but her path to freedom isn’t so easy. Progress is only made after a chance meeting between Katie and Ty on the ferry from Ellis Island.
Amid the drama of Shannon’s arrival, Katie and Ty form a trusting yet uncertain relationship. Their romantic second meeting takes place in a not so romantic situation. Yet, although he’s there when she needs him, I felt that Ty was perhaps too familiar with Katie in a way he would not have been with a woman of his background. I also felt that the story went in a different direction to the one I expected from the publisher’s synopsis.
In 223 Orchard Street, Ryan details the enormous differences in living standards in New York City at the start of the 20th century. This is my favorite element of the book. Ty is from a world of money and private clubs. He received a top education, and he chooses to live above his clinic in the poor part of the city. Katie, in contrast, has no choice. She shares a three room apartment with an aunt and a cousin. She left a village in Ireland with hope of a better life. It’s a dream she’s gradually giving up thanks to harsh reality. Will this story have a fairy tale ending of New York City proportions? You’ll have to read to find out.
Thank you to Waterfall Press for my complimentary electronic copy of 223 Orchard Street.
Have you read 223 Orchard Street? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Waterfall Press (an imprint of Amazon Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 February 2018
Page Count: 256