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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Kate Kerrigan at The TV Book Club

The sixth episode of Channel 4's The TV Book Club featured Kate Kerrigan's Ellis Island. Like earlier episodes, this one - which can be viewed at the programme's website - includes a video segment where the author introduces her book.

The novel moves from rural Ireland in the 1900s to New York in the jazz age of the 1920s, and tells the story of Eli Hogan who leaves Ireland to save money in the US so that she can pay for medical treatment for her husband, who has been injured in the war of independence. But in New York, she finds not only cash but also a world of sophistication - lifts, trouser presses, jazz - that is a world away from the simple life back home.

Kate Kerrigan herself describes the book as a love story, but as she says in the video, the book also calls into the question the relationship between money and happiness, money and love.

As several participants in the programme commented, the bones of the story might suggest this is a bit of light romantic fiction. However, all agreed that Ellis Island is more than that. Among the things that appealed to people were the strong sense of place and the description of the time. If anything, several of the programme's readers would have liked more. The overall conclusion of the people in the studio as well as the Guernsey reading group featured this week was that it was a good relaxing read, and more than the simple piece of romantic fiction they had anticipated.

To read more of Kate Kerrigan, visit her website. She has her own blog, kate kerrigan's good room.

If you have read Ellis Island, add your comments below.

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