Where I got the book: ARC from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. Its publication date is 6/28/11 according to Amazon.
In 1920s Ireland, Ellie's husband has been injured fighting for his country's freedom. Ellie makes the tough decision to take a job in New York in order to send back enough money for his operation. The new life she makes for herself in the US changes her, and puts her future life in Ireland in doubt.
I'm trying very hard here not to put in any spoilers, as I think it's pretty unfair to do that for an as-yet-to-be-published novel, so you'll excuse the brief description. The cover suggests that Kate Kerrigan is a new author on the American scene, and she was also new to me.
Ellis Island was a most enjoyable read. Kerrigan is very skilled at describing place and time with a light touch that hides her research, and there are several lyrical moments in this novel that definitely place it a cut above the average.
We see the story from Ellie's point of view, and what struck me was that her voice is Irish, but not overly so. None of the Frank McCourt street Irish here: we're talking about a girl from a good family with a superior education, and I thought Kerrigan got this exactly right in Ellie's voice. The American parts of the story were pretty convincing too, although the idea that Ellie would fall so quickly into such high society strained my imagination just a little. But--again, trying to avoid spoilers here--the resolution of the story was credibly underplayed. I really wasn't too sure which decision Ellie would take, which is unusual as I generally see plot twists coming a mile off.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a dose of romance but a good grounding in reality. Kerrigan is a fine writer, and I'll be looking out for subsequent books.