The best Irish immigrant historical fiction

The Books I Picked & Why

Ellis Island

By Kate Kerrigan

Book cover of Ellis Island

Why 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.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Edge of Lost

By Kristina McMorris

Book cover of The Edge of Lost

Why 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.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter: A Novel

By Hazel Gaynor

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

Why 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.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

By B.J. Hoff

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

Why 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.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Nature of Fragile Things

By Susan Meissner

Book cover of The Nature of Fragile Things

Why 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.


When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists