the author's website:
"Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hopes of claiming the life promised their father over twenty years before.
But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their NYC benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died, and his family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out.
Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant façade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.
Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt, but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia sees as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding.
As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading, or the love that might bring?"
After reading Promise Me This and now Band of Sisters, I have to say that Cathy Gohlke has set a very high standard for well-written, well-researched historical fiction with powerful heart. Her passion and depth of feeling are evident in the pages, but the emotions never wreak havoc with her amazing storytelling talents. With a whole band of flawed, hurting, wonderful characters, Band of Sisters is a mosaic masterpiece.
With an omniscient narrator, the story is told from various points of view, showing that the difficulties and horrors faced by one person or group of persons can affect many others - and should evoke the compassion and care of many more. But the story isn't bogged down by those multiple views, as it is mostly Maureen who carries the plot through, in more ways than one.
Maureen O'Reilly has nothing to lose by leaving behind the shambles of her life in Ireland, and the best protection of her younger sister's future seems to lie in America. But every step toward freedom seems to fall away, and her claims on hope are burned before her eyes. The hardships pile up, and the initial struggle to survive is replaced by more dreadful realities that seem too terrible to be faced...
Can grace that was once extended be offered again? Can love that followed Maureen to America follow her into deeper dangers? And can men and women of different classes and backgrounds come together to seek God's will and live out Jesus' love to others - even when the hurt becomes personal?
One character in this book challenges her sister, "What would Jesus do with this gift of writing, this God-given love of writing? What would He write?" It is inspiring to see the author live out this challenge through this story, as addressed in the author's note at the end. Band of Sisters is rather long, rather dark, and rather sad in many way - not light reading by any means - and yet it is lovingly constructed and certainly meaningful, challenging the reader as it challenges the characters. A meaty and grand book!
*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*
"Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires,
which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year
Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of
2008. Her newest book, Promise Me This, was released February 1, 2012. Her next book, Band of Sisters, will release September, 2012.
Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director
of children’s and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and
dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make
their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Maryland."
Learn more about Cathy on her lovely website!
You can buy Band of Sisters now at Amazon.com.