Publisher: Poolbeg Press
Date of publication: August 11th, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase Links: Amazon
Format Read in: eBook
It is the late 60’s in Tullamore, County Offaly, and life is full of exciting possibilities for Fiona Tracey, as she prepares to leave Ireland to work for a wealthy family in New York.
Fiona’s parents have the local shop and bar, and her younger sisters are already leading independent lives. Bridget is at a convent school preparing to be a nun and Angela has led a life of her own since she was hospitalised up in Dublin for years with childhood polio.
Then, sudden tragedy forces Fiona to postpone her departure for New York. As her mother sinks into illness and depression, her responsibilities mount. When help is offered by her aunt and cousin, Fiona is mystified by her mother’s animosity towards them.
As summer approaches, an American architect, Michael O’Sullivan, takes a room above the bar. Within a short time Fiona finds herself involved in an unexpected and passionate affair.
Then, as a surprising incident threatens Bridget’s vocation, Angela uncovers information which explodes old family secrets.
Before Fiona can embark on an independent life again, perhaps in New York, she must find a new understanding of her family – and of herself.
My first impression of A Letter From America was that this book was going to be a long but easy read. The slow start was a massive hint to me. I am not a big fan of slow starts, but in this case, it worked.
I don’t know what I thought of Angela, Fiona, Bridget, Nance, Catherine, or Joseph. If I had to form an opinion, I thought they were all, except Catherine, somewhat self-involved. I was also a little irritated about this secret. The half-heard conversations and Nance’s animosity towards Catherine and Joseph had me guessing, early on, about what this secret was.
Going into the middle of the book, I felt terrible for Fiona. She was left to deal with her mother, the bar, and the shop. I admit that I got a little peeved that Bridget or Angela didn’t offer to stay and help.
As I mentioned above, I felt terrible for Fiona; she had a lot on her plate. Like I said above, I couldn’t understand why the other two girls didn’t offer to stay and help. Well, the book explains that. See, Bridget is a nun in training, and she had to get back to classes (she is also 14). So asking her to stay home didn’t make sense. Angela did have a job and a social life, but she didn’t make an effort. I wasn’t thrilled with the explanation of why she couldn’t get down.
Michael O’Sullivan is introduced mid-book. An American architect who had bought the cottage his grandmother was born in. Fiona was instantly attracted to him, and he to her. Honestly, I didn’t see it. I felt that there was zero chemistry between them, and I couldn’t see them together in the long run.
Bridget, mid-book, had gotten herself into a pickle at the convent. I was interested in how this came about and how Bridget dealt with it. Out of the three sisters’, she seemed to have a grasp on things. Of course, she was also a teenager and made mistakes. Oh, and she knew about some of the secret that Fiona and Angela had an inkling about. Then she disappeared until the end of the book, which irked me.
Angela had some incredible good luck mid-book. Her good luck extended to home, where she was able to get Nance out of her funk and back to becoming a functioning human being. I was rooting for her, and I did predict what was going to happen.
Onto the secret. At this point, I guessed what it was. Between Fiona and Bridget, I gathered enough information to form my opinion. But, I was only partially right with what I imagined.
End of Book Impressions
I felt that Fiona and Michael’s “romance” ended very predictably. I’m going to admit that I skimmed over her part of the story. It was predictable. Okay, but predictable.
I wasn’t expecting what happened with Bridget. Now talk about throwing me for a loop there. I was glad when everything was resolved, though it was still a pretty crappy thing to do to an entire class.
I did figure out what was going to happen with Angela. Not that it took away from how sweet it was. And I loved Edward. He was perfect for her (with his social awkwardness and all!!).
The secret finally came out. Like I mentioned above, I had only pieced a small part of it together. I wasn’t expecting who the secret was about. Talking to Catherine shedded some light on it. But, in the end, it was Nance who completed the picture.
The last scene of the book was terrific. I liked how everything turned out.
My Overall Thoughts on A Letter From America
This book took me about two days to read because the book is slow. The author did a great job of showing what life in the late 1960’s Ireland was like. She also did a great job of showing how a family comes together during times of crisis. I thought that the author did a fantastic job of creating likable (well for the most part likable) characters who suffered from real-world issues. My only complaint was that I thought the romance parts of the book were forced. I also would have liked to see more of Bridget’s time at the convent.
I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read A Letter From America. It is a relatively clean book. There are some parts of the book where Fiona and Michael kiss and one scene where it is implied that they sleep together.