New Book – The Kelly Sisters by Maureen Lee


Publishing year: 2015

Like the title suggests, this book is about the three Kelly sisters in their lives in America.

The novel starts in 1925. Bernie is ready to leave Dublin for Liverpool with his three daughters. Patricia is eighteen, Aideen sixteen, and Tara fourteen. There is a boy, eight-year-old Milo, but Bernie has decided to leave him with his widowed sister since he is too young to travel. What the three sisters don’t know is that his father’s plans are different. They won’t stay in Liverpool but leave for New York. The reason why Bernie wants to go to America without telling anybody is because he is in deep trouble. He is a lawyer, and a wealthy aristocrat hired him to sell his father’s stately home. He did, but the problem is that he spent most of the proceeds on his own gambling, so he is simply fleeing. His problem becomes even worse when on the ship he plays cards with another passenger, and he loses thousands of pounds. So no seeing another way out, he jumps into the sea and commits suicide.

Bernie had left a letter for his eldest daughter, admitting what he was about to say and telling her that they should make their way in New York and they should never return to Dublin. In New York their late mother’s brother is waiting for them and he takes them to the apartment he had arranged to hire for Bernie. The girls are still mourning, but soon they need to do something. Aideen starts working at Berry’s, a department store, and she becomes friends with another girl there, Gertie. Aideen is quite wild and rebellious and we know that back in Dublin she and her friends used to pick pockets and smoke cigarettes. So far we haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary from Aideen. She often goes out with Gertie and her brothers, and she has a thing for one of them, Michael. She even considers she would like to experience sex with him, so as far as we know, nothing has happened.

Tara was supposed to go to the school where her older sister had enrolled her. Yet, she rebelled and decided that it wasn’t for her. So by sheer chance she meets an old artist in the park, and the man who is seduced by her beauty asks her to be his model. Tara accepts, and she goes to his flat where she poses for a group of people. Little by little Tara realizes that painting is simply an excuse for these people to meet, and a smoke screen for the political talks they have.

The most important story so far concerns Patricia. She used to be a secretary for her father back in Dublin, so that is the work she wants to do in New York. She starts doing some temporary work for a job agency for actors, and then she gets a position for a car company. It is here where something tragic happens to her. The boss, Gianni Vanetti, rapes her; the only person who learns about the assault is Gianni’s secretary Elaine Arquette, who is also his lover, and she persuades Patricia not to report him. She naturally leaves the company, and is hired somewhere else. However, a couple of months later she realizes that she is pregnant. The only person she can ask for help is Elaine. Patricia knows that she couldn’t abort or give away the baby, but she doesn’t know how she can keep a child. Elaine says she might have an idea, and they arrange to meet. Instead of Elaine, a man comes to meet her. It is Gianni’s brother, Leo. After talking for a bit, he proposes to her, saying that they could have some kind of arranged marriage to protect her reputation and the baby. Patricia agrees to marry him, and this time she has to tell her sisters the truth. They react angrily but accept that marrying Leo could be the best option. They had already warmed up to him. They move to a bigger apartment, and Patricia grows fonder and fonder of Leo. Actually, she even feels jealous of Leo treating her the same as her sisters. It is when the baby is born that Leo confesses he is in love with her and has been since he first saw her, and she also admits her feelings. This part seems to have a happy ending for Patricia. I wonder what other tribulations the three sisters will have to face.


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