Amazon review for 'Daughters in Exile.'
Susan Birch (Many thanks for this lovely review.)
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 October 2022
"The novel alternates between two women who, despite their youth and inexperience of the world, continue to strive to create better lives for themselves and those with whom they come into contact. Yet, just when you anticipate circumstances may be improving, further setbacks to success spring to the fore. However, the women’s indomitable spirits encourage a sense of optimism, in that if a person can do something to better their situation, there is always hope. The novel begins on a convict ship setting out for New South Wales, a journey of fourteen thousand miles, anticipated to take several months. Despite her imprisonment aboard, Jane Keating has no regrets for the unselfish act to which she has committed, namely serving a seven year term for her wrongly arrested friend, Annie Power. She is surprised to find life aboard ship has the benefits of regular food, cleaner accommodation thanks to the good organisation of mess quarters and a caring captain. Life seems settled and manageable until she is assaulted by one of the crew.
The second chapter switches to Annie Power and her two younger siblings as they arrive at their aunt’s home in Manhattan. Annie immediately goes looking for work and meets a girl she recognises from her journey from Ireland. She also sees the man who tried to abduct her sister. As she becomes more familiar with her new surroundings, she develops the desire to assist young orphan girls less fortunate than herself.
The plot makes for a credible, fast-moving read that holds the attention in every chapter, assisted by the inclusion of historical characters and events. We are appalled at the descriptions of ill-treatment and hardship suffered by immigrants to America and the way they are taken advantage of by the unscrupulous, including those who snatch children, so the parents are forced to use what little money they have to buy them back. There are beautiful phrases, such as when Annie recalls life in Waterford and “her beloved father’s voice, the deep anchor to her days” or the tug of heartstrings when Annie’s sister is reluctant to replace her tatty old ribbon because it serves as a reminder of her daddy.
The settings are packed with detail that draw out our sympathy and admiration for how well both women adapt to and cope with difficult conditions. What clearly comes across is the love they have for their native Ireland, despite the losses and hardships they endured there. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first in this series, Daughters of the Famine Road, the cast of characters at the start of this novel serves as a handy reminder. Daughters in Exile would also work as a standalone. I look forward to the third and final book in the trilogy from this accomplished self-published author."
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