1940s Hollywood. A new life. A new love.
Land of Dreams is the stunning third novel in the Ellis Island trilogy by author Kate Kerrigan and deals with a mother’s love, a woman’s ambition and a Hollywood romance in a time of war.
It is the 1940s and Ellie Hogan is living as a celebrated artist against the beautiful backdrop of Fire Island, Long Island Shore, New York with two adopted sons she adores. Life is good – and a far cry from the poverty of her Irish roots. But then her idyllic, bohemian family lifestyle is shattered when her eldest son, Leo, runs away to Hollywood to seek his fame and fortune. Ellie is compelled to chase after him, uprooting her youngest son and her long-time friend and confidante Bridie as she goes.
Ellie fashions a new home amongst the celebrities, artists and movie moguls of the day to appease Leo’s star-studded dreams. As she carves out a new way of life, Ellie is drawn towards intense new friendships. Talented composer Stan is completely different to any other man she has previously encountered, whilst kindred spirit Suri opens Ellie’s eyes to a whole new set of injustices.
Ellie soon sees beyond the glitz of 1940s Hollywood, realising that the glamorous and exciting world is also a dangerous place, overflowing with vanity and greed. It is up to Ellie to protect her precious family from the disappointments such surroundings can bring and also from the more menacing threats radiating from the war which is raging in Europe.
Land of Dreams is another wonderful novel by Kate Kerrigan, in which she returns to her character, Ellie Hogan, who we first met in Ellis Island in the 1920s. For those who have read Ellis Island and City of Hope this novel provides a very satisfying conclusion to female protagonist Ellie’s turbulent life, allowing her to move on with a new phase of her life and to new relationships in 1940s Hollywood, without her ever forgetting the Irish roots or her first husband, John, which still ground her and influence her decisions.
It is always fascinating to follow a character through a trilogy and Kate Kerrigan has done an excellent job of developing Ellie through three decades. Now a mature woman, who has lost two husbands, Ellie is driven by the love for her two children and it is the interests of her two sons which are always at the forefront of her decision-making. Ellie’s relationship with her old friend Bridie, also adds a real sense of warmth and compassion to this novel – and some lovely touches of humour and Irish wit, which the author evokes so well in her writing.
Land of Dreams takes the reader on an exciting journey to the glamour of 1940s Hollywood, which Kate Kerrigan depicts wonderfully: the movie studios, the palm trees, the movie stars and the extravagant parties. And yet, there is always an undercurrent of human dilemma to the narrative and to the characters, which ensure that this novel never becomes frothy or frivolous and is always rooted in the motivations of our, very real, heroine and her very real relationships: as a mother, a woman, a friend and a lover. The impact of war is also handled very sensitively in this novel.
Reaching the end of a trilogy is always bittersweet: a combination of satisfaction at completing the journey with a character, yet sadness at not really wanting to leave them behind. Kate Kerrigan has done such a great job with her character Ellie Hogan that I am sure many of her readers will be sad to leave her but, I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Kate does next.
About the author
Kate Kerrigan is an author living and working in Ireland. Her novels are: Recipes for a Perfect Marriage which was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2008 and has been translated into 20 languages; The Miracle of Grace, which has been adapted as a film script with funding from the Irish Film Board; Ellis Island, the first of a trilogy which was selected as a TV Book Club Summer Read in Britain and launched in the U.S. with Harper Collins in July 2011; City of Hope the sequel to Ellis Island and Land of Dreams the final part of the Ellis Island trilogy.
Land of Dreams is Eason’s book of the month.