A Sparkling Vintage Life

annies stories coverIn 1901, young Irish immigrant Annie Gallagher has a good job as a housekeeper in a New York City boarding house–but her real ambition is to build a library to be used and enjoyed by other hardworking immigrants. Before arriving in the States, Annie had to overcome difficult circumstances back in Ireland, including the deaths of her parents, strife caused by her uncle and cousin, and a horrifying stint in a Magdalen laundry, where unwanted girls were put to work. Now safely ensconced in a better place, she wants to reach out to other immigrants adjusting to new lives and, as a lover of books and stories, feels a library would help to do that.

Like the rest of America, Annie is enthralled with a new book taking the country by storm called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And she treasures the only legacy she received from her late father–pages that contain the imaginative stories he spun for her all throughout her childhood.

Annie’s Stories is peopled with well-drawn characters: spirited Annie; boardinghouse owner Mrs. Hawkins, a stern but motherly figure; a young German immigrant girl who works in a factory; and a handsome postman who seems to have set his cap for Annie, among others. But soon, a series of secrets and misunderstandings threatens to upset the new life Annie has made for herself. Authorities threaten to close down the boardinghouse, and even the pages of her father’s stories might contain a secret that could change her whole life.

I enjoyed the early-twentieth century setting and the details about life in New York at that time, as well as the plucky immigrant women making their own way in a new world. The themes of overcoming obstacles and learning to trust God shine through. If you enjoy the inspirational historical novels of Lynn Austin, as I do, Cindy Thomson is another author you should try.

Annie’s Stories is the second book in Cindy Thomson’s Ellis Island series, and the sequel to Grace’s Pictures. Grace, the heroine of the earlier book, makes a few appearances in Annie’s Stories.However, you don’t need to have read Grace’s Pictures first in order to enjoy Annie’s Stories.

If you enjoy the inspirational historical novels of Lynn Austin, Cindy Thomson is another writer you should try.

Disclosure: I’ve been given a review copy of this book by the publisher. This generosity, while appreciated, has not biased my review. I also post some of my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.