Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Annie's Stories

Annie’s Stories is a novel about a young woman working as a housekeeper in New York City in 1901. A recent immigrant from Ireland, she’s looking for a place to call home. She dreams of opening a library in her father’s memory someday.

There were a lot of elements that I liked about this book. The women of Hawkins House, where Annie lived, were an interesting assortment of characters. Seeing New York City in the early 1900’s through the eyes of a postman was intriguing, too. And I loved learning about the publishing industry, the Wizard of Oz, the Magdalene laundries, the Pinkerton detectives, and the Irish seanchai. Annie’s Stories has a lot to offer those interested in history.

The story itself, though, was missing something. Both main characters (Annie, the housekeeper, and Stephen, the postman) were passive. The story happened to them. Both were frustrated and bitter about events of their past. Both were anxious about what their futures might hold. But neither did much of anything to contribute to the story. Instead, supporting characters brought them information or created problems for them to wonder about. For the most part, these other characters did all the work while Annie and Stephen watched, figured out what it all meant for them, and, occasionally made a wrong decision in the name of self-interest.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. I was hoping the girl on the cover would find her own grand adventure. I was thankful, at least, that she did discover home

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