Annie’s Stories is the second book in Cindy Thomson’s “Ellis Island” series, the first book being “Grace’s Pictures”, which I had not had the opportunity to start with. I believe stepping into Annie’s story, and not having got the feel for Cindy’s stories beforehand, caused me to take a little longer then most to get the feel for the story. It was a bit of a process clasping onto the diversity in her book, from the German to Irish accents, and the the many back stories you come to learn. A couple chapters in though I was warmed up and really getting into the era I had dove head first into.
It is quite interesting getting to feel for New York during the 1900’s, while it is still building it’s foundation around the many immigrants who came to make it their home. Annie Gallagher was such an immigrant, having moved from Ireland after the tragic death of her father, and storyteller, Marty Gallagher. Shortly following her death Annie was tossed aside by her uncle under cruel circumstances, and left to dwell in the most horrible of places, Magdaline’s Laundries house, a place for abandoned girls. By the grace of Father Weldon, she was sent to America where she would make a new home in Mrs. Hawkin’s boarding house.
Annie hopes to have an opportunity to live out her dream, in America, of opening a library of her own, in honor of her father, but finds herself facing doubt and adversity as she doesn’t have the means to make it happen. Dreams set aside, Annie soon finds life in the boarding home disrupted when challenge after challenge piles itself on Annie’s shoulders. First her cousin, whom she holds responsible for her misfortunes, follows her footsteps and lands herself in the same boarding house with Annie. Shortly following an accusation is made of one of the boarding house girls, putting the entire boarding house at risk of shutting down. Even with Mrs. Hawkin’s steadfast faith to reassure her, Annie can’t help but wonder where God has been all this time.
In the meantime, Stephen Adams, the local postman, can’t help but lay eyes on the beautiful Irish lass from Mrs. Hawkin’s boarding house. Day after Day Stephen tries his hardest to find a time and a way to make conversation with Annie, but it seems Annie can never manage to give him enough time in the day. This doesn’t discourage the man who struggles himself to find time and money, and is doing all he can himself to get by. That is until Stephen finds a way to link the two of them together, through their shared passion of books and reading, and he does so using The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. During one of his visits, Stephen is invited in for a cup of tea and to discuss their current read, and Annie finds the time to share with him where her love of reading comes from. When Stephen discovers Annie’s father’s collection of children’s tales he finds a treasure far more valuable within them, and a way to possibly solve both their problems.
I am so glad I got to know this book and it’s characters. I’ve always had a love for historical novels, but this one was definitely set apart from the rest. I loved Annie’s story, and do hope to get a chance to read Grace’s, now that I’ve gotten to know her more too. Cindy Thomson did a wonderful job in her research and her attention to detail. It takes a great talent to do so, and for anyone interested in history and a great fiction read, I’d say this is a book you will come to love.
I was provided this book for free through Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way required to give a positive review, and provided my own honest opinions.