05 July 2014

Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

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The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment – they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job… and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie – and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned… where dreams really do come true.

Cindy Thomson writes excellent historical fiction. The second in her Ellis Island series (preceded by Grace’s Pictures), Annie’s Stories once again ventures into New York City life at the turn of the century, and at every point within the story, I felt immersed in the cultural and social reality of the day. Thomson touches on many prominent historical aspects and their effects – some with which I was previously unfamiliar – including Magdalene Laundries, Ellis Island inspections, the assassination of President McKinley, the Post Office Department. I especially enjoyed the prominence of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz throughout the storyline, as Thomson uses its plot points to reflect character growth and development. I had not realized what a cultural phenomenon this book was when first published, but I feel like I need to go read it now.

Overall, Annie’s Stories is a sweet story with flawed but lovable characters and bits of romance, mystery and drama. I recommend it for fans of historical fiction. (It is not necessary to first read Grace’s Pictures. Both novels are able to be read on their own.) It’s an entertaining and enlightening read, and I can’t wait to read more from Cindy Thomson. I thank Tyndale BlogNetwork for providing me with a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

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