The best Irish immigrant historical fiction

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.


I wrote...

Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

By Cindy Thomson,

Book cover of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

What is my book about?

Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted.

Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Ellis Island

Cindy Thomson Why did I love this book?

The main character Ellie is strong and resilient. I loved that she went to America to make money for her injured husband’s sake, was flung into a world in New York City that was so unlike rural Ireland, met with temptations, and found her way out. Ultimately, it’s a love story (not romance per se) and I found myself rooting for Ellie throughout the whole book.

By Kate Kerrigan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ellis Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rural Irish girl Ellie loves living in New York, working as a lady's maid for a wealthy socialite. She tries to persuade her husband, John, to join her but he is embroiled in his affairs in Ireland, and caught up in the civil war. Nevertheless Ellie is extremely happy and fully embraces her sophisticated new life. When her father dies she must return home, but she intends to sort her affairs quickly and then return to her beloved America.

But once home her sense of duty kicks in and she decides, painfully, that she must stay to look after her…


Book cover of The Edge of Lost

Cindy Thomson Why did I love this book?

The story begins with a mystery and then we are taken back to Dublin, Ireland, to the character’s childhood. He comes to Ellis Island alone and is taken in by an Italian family. The immigrant experience is compelling in this novel and I love a story where you go back in time to try to figure out how the character got to the place he’s in and what happened on his journey. This is a page-turner for sure.

By Kristina McMorris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Edge of Lost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.
 
On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.
 
Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living in Dublin…


Book cover of The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter: A Novel

Cindy Thomson Why did I love this book?

This book is so well written. It draws the reader into the story quickly with rich historical details and compelling characters. In 1838 in England a young woman helps her father, a lighthouse keeper, rescue survivors of a shipwreck. A century later a young Irish woman is sent to America to have her baby while living with a relative who is a lighthouse keeper. The 1938 woman learns family history that takes us back to the previous story. I love stories of family legacies and mysteries that come to us from the past.

By Hazel Gaynor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home comes a historical novel inspired by true events, and the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers of the past two hundred years.

“They call me a heroine, but I am not deserving of such accolades. I am just an ordinary young woman who did her duty.”

1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and…


Book cover of Song of Erin: Cloth of Heaven/Ashes and Lace (Song of Erin Series 1-2)

Cindy Thomson Why did I love this book?

This is a gritty story of the peril young Irish immigrants faced when coming to America, along with the hardships they were escaping back in Ireland. The fact that others were waiting to abuse and exploit the immigrants is certainly historically accurate. However, B.J. Hoff’s stories are always filled with hope and shine a light on hope in God. It’s Christian fiction, so readers should be aware of that. Also, this new edition includes two stories, a great deal. B.J. Hoff passed away in 2021 but left a long legacy of inspirational historical fiction.

By B.J. Hoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Song of Erin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mysteries of the past confront the secrets of the present in bestselling author BJ Hoff's magnificent "Song of Erin" saga. In her own unique style, Hoff spins a panoramic story that crosses the ocean from Ireland to America, featuring two of her most memorable characters. In this tale of struggle and love and uncompromising faith, Jack Kane, the always charming but sometimes ruthless titan of New York's most powerful publishing empire, is torn between the conflict of his own heart and the grace and light of Samantha Harte, the woman he loves, whose own troubled past continues to haunt…


Book cover of The Nature of Fragile Things

Cindy Thomson Why did I love this book?

Set in 1906 during the incredibly destructive San Francisco earthquake, this novel follows Irish immigrant Sophie Whalen who chose to leave poverty in New York City to become a mail-order bride for widower Martin Hocking and his young daughter. Don’t be tempted to believe this is just another mail-order bride story or even a romance for that matter. The story contains a mystery to be solved with characters to sort out. I was surprised by the story’s unfolding, finding it unpredictable, which is a good thing. I love Susan Meissner’s writing, so fluid, so emotional.

By Susan Meissner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Nature of Fragile Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin's silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin's odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling…


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Not in the Plan

By Dana Hawkins,

Book cover of Not in the Plan

Dana Hawkins Author Of Not in the Plan

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a contemporary romance writer, mom, queer, dog-lover, and coffee enthusiast. I have a deep love of the genre, particularly sparkly and swoony, sapphic romcoms, with a borderline obsession with happily-ever-afters. Knowing I will always have a happy ending while smiling through pages gives me the comforting hug I sometimes need. My goal is to spread queer joy in my writing and provide a safe, celebratory, and affirming space for my readers to escape reality.

Dana's book list on swoony, sapphic RomComs

What is my book about?

Crushed under writer’s block and a looming deadline, Mack escapes from New York to Seattle. She meets Charlie, a beautiful, generous, nearly bankrupt coffee shop owner recovering from heartbreak. For the first time, Mack has a muse. And then Mack starts using Charlie’s private stories in her novel…

When a storm traps Mack and Charlie in the coffee shop, they share a mind-bending, knee-shaking kiss. But Charlie is an eternal optimist who sleeps with fairy-lights on, while Mack is an ironing-at-5am worrier who sleeps with… everyone. They could never turn this chemistry into something real, right? And if Charlie finds out what Mack has been doing, turning Charlie’s most intimate secrets into a juicy page-turner, will they even have a chance to try?

Not in the Plan

By Dana Hawkins,

What is this book about?

Free-spirited coffee shop owner meets uptight coffee addict. Is an opposites-attract match brewing… or burning?

Crushed under the weight of writer’s block and a looming deadline, Mack escapes from New York to Seattle. She meets Charlie, a beautiful, generous, nearly bankrupt coffee shop owner recovering from heartbreak. For the first time, Mack has a muse. And then Mack starts using Charlie’s private stories in her novel…

When a storm traps Mack and Charlie in the coffee shop, they share a mind-bending, knee-shaking kiss. But Charlie is an eternal optimist who sleeps with fairy-lights on, while Mack is an ironing-at-5am worrier…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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