Maureen O'Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. 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 facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.
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29 out of 3097%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
When I began this book, I honestly had no idea how prevalent the human sex trafficking business was and how long it had been going on. I was horrified to realize that such a thing as the white slavery trade was going on in this country in the late 1800's. I am still reeling from the shock of it all.
The Christian message of this book was fantastically woven into the fabric of the story in a remarkable way. I so appreciate the way that Cathy Gohlke made God and Christianity a real thing rather than just something nice on the side. The characters who were truly committed to the Lord, lived it!
The characters were so well-developed, and I connected with them on a real way. I always find it kind of funny when I actually feel like praying for the characters to make it through this situation or that situation when they are not real. But the author made the characters so alive to me that I wanted to do just that.
I appreciate the way the author wrote fairly realistic fiction. Usually, Christian books avoid great tragedies and even mention the dreaded word "sex" or "prostitution." This book handled the issue in a real way, and it made the story all that more real to me.
I was surprised to see the inclusion of the book "In His Steps." It had been a while since I had read that book, but it certainly made for an interesting turn of events. To see the characters living the philosophy "What Would Jesus Do" really did make me stop and think about the cost of following Christ--especially for those in society. This is a book I can recommend to anyone who wants to learn about a portion of history that is not normally discussed in this country.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100 percent mine, and I was not financially compensated.
If you're looking for a page-turner, look no further.
I love books that involve sisters, especially stories full of emotion and angst. I sympathized with Maureen O'Reilly when she was treated unfair and was rooting for her and her sister as they escaped Ireland...to only find new problems.
This story is historical fiction at its best. I felt that it took a long time for the story line to explain the title, but it fell into place. I was disturbed by the actions of the main character when she made questionable choices, but I feel that this was intentional, so we would be warmed by the resolution of the events. I sympathized with Maureen and her good intentions, and Olivia as well. The descriptions were wonderful. I could picture the city, and the factory, and the night-lit streets. I have a somewhat limited knowledge of 1910 New York City, but it felt accurate and believable to me. The plot had some gritty aspects and also a tender treatment of faith and grace. I am very grateful for a clean story with likeable characters.
Band of Sisters—A Passionate Voice for the Oppress
Date:August 24, 2013
Today’s headlines shout of the unspeakable—rape, human trafficking, and oppression of the vulnerable. It’s all the more difficult to believe of a country whose constitution and laws were written to protect the innocent—but is this a new phenomenon?
In award-winning and best-selling author, Cathy Gohlke’s newest novel, Band of Sisters, we learn that today’s atrocities are not recent events, but are cruelties which have been around for centuries.
Gohlke takes us back in time to tell the story of the O’Reilly sisters, Maureen and Katie Rose.
In 1910, Maureen and her younger sister flee Ireland, a place for them that only offers a future of compromising servitude. Maureen places her hope for a better life on a new country and a twenty-year old promise made to her father by a stranger, Colonel Wakefield. Still, the promise is better than her and her sister’s present reality.
After enduring the challenges and indignities of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died. There is a mix-up with Colonel Wakefield’s family, with the end result of the brother-in-law refusing to honor the colonel’s debt.
With her sister ill, and now the threat of deportation looming over her, Maureen hatches a plan to obtain employment in a department store that caters to the affluent. It’s not long before she stumbles upon an alarming subterfuge at the respectable establishment. Women are disappearing. Maureen’s experience as one oppressed by wealthy men, compels her to question—too aggressively—the disappearances.
Meanwhile, the two sisters struggle to make ends meet as well as to get along. Katie Rose is captivated by the wealthy and is blinded by the frivolous, superficial lifestyles centered on them. She even turns her back on her own sister.
As women continue to disappear, Maureen participates in a dangerous plot headed by her employer’s business partner and her friend who has recently emigrated from Ireland—and who has loved Maureen for many years.
Maureen is swallowed up by the colossal wave of human trafficking. The scope of its cruelty and deviousness is more than she could imagine or handle. What transpires will have the reader sitting long into the night, gripping the pages with anticipation to see what happens next.
For years, Cathy Gohlke has written—beautifully and with great passion—the stories of the oppressed. In Band of Sisters, she digs even deeper to bring to light the depravities of humanity, yet strives to elevate our hearts with hope for God’s healing and restoration.
Band of Sisters is also an opportunity to teach us to tune our hearts, minds, and ears to the contemporary problems of human trafficking. By teaching us, we can be like Maureen and not turn away from those in need.
Band of Sisters has become one of my favorite books.
This book was a fascinating read. While I remained fairly sure that everything was going to work out okay, it was a thrilling read to find out exactly how it all did work out. I will admit to reading ahead a bit just to make sure that Maureen really did escape being captured. I thought Cathy had a really good way of writing and I would definitely be interested in reading more of her books.
Maureen O’Reill, raped by her employer nobleman, was determined to rescue her beloved young sister, Katie Rose, from the same fate when their mother died. Her aunt said both girls needed to flee immediately for a ship bound for America, using money an American man had sent her father as well as a letter stating his wish to help the family since her father had saved his life. Her mother had been too foolish to go, and now that both parents were dead, it was up to Maureen to take the money and her sister and flee. A young man, Joshua Keeton, was asked to take them to the ship. Maureen was so scared of men that she tried not to let Joshua do more than that. However, he too left Ireland and it was with his help and the help of Mrs. Melkford, a lady from the American Missionary Aid Society that she cleared immigration at Ellis Island, leaving Katie Rose behind to recover from chicken pox. Since getting a job and a place to live were critical to Katie Rose’s release from Ellis Island when she’d recovered, Maureen went to Olivia Wakefield’s house with the letter stating Mr. Morrow’s desire for the O’Reilly family to come to America and so get help from him. What happened when Maureen showed up at the Wakefield house leaving Maureen crushed but determined? Survival was now at stake. How did she get references for herself at Darcy’s Department Store? Another girl helped her find a place to live and cheap second-hand clothes. But it was not smooth sailing. Katie Rose hated her pox scars and wanted to look better dressed and live in a better place than Maureen had found despite the lack of money. But worse was ahead as people disappeared from work and Maureen was hired to help Joshua find them. Where were the missing women? Why were they missing? Would they be able to capture the guilty ones and free the missing workers in time? Would Olivia forgive Curtis for using her to capture her husband? Would Maureen survive? Would Katie Rose ever love Maureen?
In Band of Sisters, Maureen and Katie Rose arrive at Ellis Island from a long journey from Ireland. They have arrived in America to make a better life for themselves, however, things do not go as planned. Before they enter America, teenager Katie Rose gets the chicken pox and is not allowed to leave the hospital. Maureen is not allowed to stay and is forced to leave Katie Rose behind until she is declared healthy enough to enter America. Furthermore, Maureen needs to show proof that she is able to properly care for Katie Rose by showing proof that she has a decent job and housing or Katie Rose will be sent back to Ireland. Maureen, who is believed to be sponsored by a wealthy family, goes to the Wakefields only to be turned away by the deceased sponsor’s son-in-law. In desperation, she takes a job at Darcy’s Department Store and housing above a bar. Though Maureen is thankful for her job, she soon realizes that something menacing is going on at Darcy’s: women are disappearing shortly after receiving promotions. When one of her friends disappears, Maureen asks too many questions and pretty soon, things turn ugly at her workplace. Meanwhile, Katie Rose is released and the two sisters struggle to make ends meet as well as get along together. As more woman are disappearing, Maureen becomes mixed up in a dangerous plot headed by her employer’s business partner and a friend from Maureen’s past. As the heat is turned on, a large rift occurs between Katie Rose and Maureen causing Katie Rose to sever ties with her sister over a love triangle. As Maureen is thrust into more danger than was expected, she will discover the power of love and of God.
I couldn't put this book down! It opened my eyes to the extreme difficulties female immigrants faced from the moment they arrived at Ellis Island. I cannot imagine the terror of being separated from my family and having no one to turn to that I could trust. Yet, through a series of events, Maureen arrives in New York City totally alone and penniless. Gradually she does discover people she can trust, and those she cannot. Gohlke really brought to life her characters and I did not want the book to end as I wanted to keep reading about them.
An historical setting that puts the spotlight on current issues. Two young immigrant women desperate for a new life are thrown into turn-of-the-century New York City's immigrant world. Believing they are coming to a better life, they are shocked to realize how difficult life becomes when the person they thought would sponsor them has died. There is an undercurrent in the story of the two sisters' relationship that explores each perspective and what they each perceive to be their motivation behind their behavior vs what is really going on. While the events escalate into somewhat unbelievable territory, it is still a very compelling read that has a can't-put-it-down quality where the reader is driven to find out how they get out of yet another dire situation. Though neither is specifically depicted, the novel has some mature themes of sex trafficking and rape, putting modern-day issues in a historical setting. A fast-paced, well-written novel worth reading.
Band of Sisters was a bit predictable. I think it is great that the author tackled writing about trafficking, a cause we should all be more aware of. The book just wasn’t that well-written, and it had a slow pace. I was a bit disappointed.
Summary: When two sisters flee Ireland after their mother's death, they find themselves struggling to survive in turn of the century New York City. One sister finds a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, the other in a department store which is a front for sex-trafficking. As the danger increases and motives become confused, the two sisters grow farther apart.
The story is well written and pulled me in. Gohlke must have sisters, because she perfectly captures the love, hurt, and forgiveness intrinsic to that relationship. Some of the plot is predictable, but some of it caught me completely off guard, which was a nice change for christian fiction. There is a lot of pain in this story, and many people are hurt by those around them. But the story also does a good job showing how perfect love casts out fear, how love covers a multitude of sins, and how love bears no record of wrongs.
I'd give it five stars, but the writing style wasn't quite up to that level. Otherwise, I'd recommend it.
Band of Sisters was not what I expected - and it was much more than I expected. Set in the early 1900s in New York City, this book follows the story of Irish immigrants, Maureen and Katie Rose. They come through Ellis Island determined to make life better on their own. Initially, the O'Reilly sisters do come with the hope of a benefactor, due to an old letter of their Da's. When they find that their benefactor is not what they expected, Maureen is determined to stand on her own and start a new life. However, she quickly and sadly learns that life in America is not all that she expected. What I found most intriguing about this book was the incorporation of white slavery - prostitution. This fiction book challenges you to think about a modern issue just by reading this book. That is what a good book does, and Cathy does it. Band of Sisters was riveting and I read it all over the course of two days, because I had to find out what happened. I highly recommend this book.
I discovered my new favorite author last month and her newest book didn't disappoint. The reader is swept away from the first page. Cathy weaves a gripping story with very real characters. You'll smile and you'll definitely cry as you read their touching story.
The theme of Band of Sisters is living out what Jesus would have us do in every aspect of our lives. The author refers often to a classic 1890's book called In His Steps which is now next on my to-read list. Cathy spins a thought-provoking story, and woven through it all is Jesus, the author of our lives who weaves everything perfectly together to create a masterpiece.
When their mother dies, Maureen and her sister Katie Rose escape a dangerous future in Ireland and come to New York, where an old family friend awaits. But the friend has died and the girls are turned away by the friend's family. Maureen finds work at a department store that hides a secret, and she must figure out what to do.
I found this book very good and an interesting read. Like the author's previous book (Promise Me This), it is full of detail and adventure.
Maureen O'Reilly has submitted to the abuse of her landlord for many years, for the sake of her mother and sister's wellbeing. But when her mother dies and it becomes apparent that the landlord's son has his eye on Maureen's thirteen-year-old sister, Katie Rosie, Maureen conspires to escape their clutches once and for all. With just a few coins to their name and a decade-old letter from their father's friend in New York, the sisters leave Ireland in the hope of a new, better life in the United States. But when they arrive on Ellis Island, finding employment and accommodation isn't as easy as the women expected. Katie Rose is detained on the island until her chicken pox has passed, and Maureen is left to search for their father's old friend, Colonel Wakefield. But the Colonel is no longer living, and his son-in-law wants nothing to do with Maureen or her family. With the help of some money lent by a stranger and a woman from the local missionary society, Maureen is able to get a job in a department store and rent a room in a decrepit tenement building. Katie Rose is less than impressed with their living conditions when she's allowed to enter New York, but that's the least of Maureen's worries right now.
Girls from the department store keep disappearing, apparently "promoted" to a better place of employment, but something about their disappearances doesn't feel right, especially as they seem to be linked to the mysterious stranger who lent Maureen money on Ellis Island. The mystery becomes even more confusing when Maureen is brought into contact with Olivia Wakefield, the daughter of their father's old friend. Despite her brother-in-law's disdain for Maureen and her sister, Olivia is determined to help the women. But Maureen is hesitant, especially when Olivia's brother-in-law, Drake, appears to mixed up in the disappearances at the department store. Does Olivia really want the best for Maureen and Katie Rose, or is something more sinister bubbling under the surface?
The initial synopsis for Band of Sisters gave little of the plot away, which made it all the more appealing and intriguing. By the time I got around to reading the novel, several months after I'd first heard of it, I'd forgotten much of the synopsis and expected it to be merely a light romance about two sisters who emigrated to the United States looking for a fresh start. I haven't read many novels about European émigrés at the turn of the twentieth century, although I studied the topic enough in high school history classes. But my studies often stopped when the families left their homeland, and prior to reading Band of Sisters, I hadn't realised how difficult it was to even make it into the United States, let alone find a job or accommodation. Cathy's details regarding the rigours of Ellis Island inspections made me quite fearful for Maureen and Katie Rose, and the descriptions of their accommodation were also realistically portrayed. My only complaint about the details of Maureen's arrival in New York would have to be that it seemed remarkably easy for her to forge her application form at Darcy's Department Store , and get a job on the day she applied. I know that she used the Wakefield name to her advantage, but I did wonder whether the manager or owner of the store wouldn't have contacted the Wakefields to verify Maureen's story. Considering all the factors conspiring against her, getting a job so easily didn't seem entirely realistic.
I was surprised, yet pleasantly so, at the dark turn Band of Sisters took once Maureen was established in her job at the department store. Maureen fled Ireland because she had been forced to prostitute her body to her landlord in order to stop her mother and sister from being evicted, but she hadn't been aware of how easy it was for many single, newly emigrated women in New York to be forced into selling their bodies for the exact same reasons. Maureen's determination to save herself and her sister from the plight that awaited them back in Ireland was commendable, as was her desire to protect other women in the same position. But as Maureen delved deeper into the disappearances at her workplace, Band of Sisters challenged my assumptions about prostitution. It's easy to assume that women are forced into this profession - both then and now - by desperation and reduced circumstances, but how often do we really consider those who truly are forced into the occupation, and are unable to fight back and escape? I genuinely didn't expect this to be a novel about human trafficking, but the hidden subject seems appropriate, considering how human trafficking is something that is essentially hidden in plain view, both in Darcy's department store in 1900 and in our seemingly modern, civilised lives today.
I'm torn over how I feel about Katie Rose's treatment of Maureen. Part of me doesn't want to believe that she would reject her sister because of the assumptions made about Maureen's character back in Ireland. Although their community rejected Maureen because of her involvement with her landlord (despite many of them knowing that her "involvement" was never Maureen's choice and was forced upon her repeatedly), I felt that Katie Rose should have been more sympathetic to everything Maureen had done to protect their family. But, on the other hand, I could understand the jealousy that fuelled Katie Rose's anger at her sister. Maureen's beauty appears to attract many men - both a friend from Ireland and a man involved in the trafficking ring - despite her ruined character, while no one is interested in the innocent, pure Katie Rose. Thus, Katie Rose has to assume that these men are only interested in Maureen because of her lack of morals and willingness to be promiscuous. Although Katie Rose's logic is incredibly flawed, I can see where she's coming from, having not long ago been a teenage girl myself and been jealous of my classmates who were able to attract boys with their feminine wiles while I remained perpetually single. While it's easy to judge Katie Rose, as an outsider to the story, I couldn't help but wonder whether I would have taken her side if I'd been in her position. Is it any wonder we're not sympathetic enough to women trapped in prostitution if we make these assumptions of women with "loose morals"?
Olivia Wakefield played a larger part in this story than I initially expected, and it was interesting to see how she lived in comparison to Maureen and Katie Rose. I'm sure many readers will relate to Olivia's desire to help the less fortunate but genuinely not being able to understand their struggles enough to truly provide any assistance. Although some of Olivia's friends might seem naive or snobbish in their assumptions and suggestions, I'm sure there are many middle-class women's church groups today that aren't too different from the one that Olivia attended. I'd never heard of Charles Sheldon's In His Steps before reading Band of Sisters, but I appreciated the way that his book made its way into the lives of all the women in the novel and helped them to focus their actions as Jesus would have. Although the repetition of the phrase "What would Jesus do?" continually made me think of those wristbands that were popular in my youth group a few years ago, it really is something that everyone needs to consider more often. I hope this is a message that readers take away from Band of Sisters.
Band of Sisters certainly gave me a lot to think about, and I was sad when the book finally came to an end. It was the sort of story that I wanted to savour, even though I rushed through it in my desire to see Maureen and Olivia achieve their goals and receive their much-earned happy endings. While the story had a few small flaws, I hope that many readers are able to appreciate Band of Sisters and come out of the book as challenged as I was. 4.5*
A heart wrenching journey, that asks the question: What would Jesus do?
After the death of Lady Catherine, Maureen O'Riley finds herself without protection from her horrible employer, and she worries about her young sister, Kate, being left alone and all the moments when she can't protect her. So she heads to America with her sister and a 28 year old letter promising a future. But when they arrive Colonel Wakefield is dead and Maureen finds a job at what she supposes to be a upscale department store, but what she doesn't know is that it holds a terrible secret... Olivia Wakefield is determined to help Maureen and Kate, and keep the promise that her father made to their father, but she can't find Maureen...
Wow, what a book! I really enjoyed Promise Me This so I was looking forward to reading Band of Sisters, and it lived up to my expectations. I thought that it started a bit slow, with everything happening so fast to Maureen and Kate, that it was hard to actually get into the story for awhile. But when I got to Olivia's part of the story, I liked her immediately, she had an admirable determination to do the right thing and change peoples' lives.
To be honest I didn't become completely involved in the story until about 1/3 of the way in, that was the point where I had a hard time putting it down :) I liked how this book dealt with the tough issue of Human Trafficking, in a compelling and heart wrenching story.
I liked the character of Olivia the most, because of how determined she was to right a wrong. Joshua Keeton was a great character too, such a nice guy! I did eventually come to like Maureen and Kate though both of them did frustrate me more than a few times over the course of the book!
Overall an excellent read, though it scared me a little in the beginning when I wasn't really sure if I would like it or not! But I loved it. This book was tough and it asked the age old question of: What would Jesus do? I just loved how that was woven into the story in such a thought provoking manner. A fulfilling and satisfying read, that will break your heart for all the right reasons.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!