1904: Ellen Copley is still a child when she leaves behind the sooty rail yards of Glasgow, and crosses the Atlantic Ocean with a heart full of dreams. Yet within weeks of their arrival in America, her father has disappeared—leaving Ellen with resentful relatives, feeling alone and scared for her future.
But then her kind Aunt Rose invites Ellen to stay with her large family, in their rambling house on beautiful Amherst Island, which nestles like a jewel in the blue waters of Lake Ontario.
There Ellen finally begins to find the love and acceptance she has long been craving—both from Aunt Rose’s boisterous family, and from the boys next door, Jed and Lucas Lyman. It’s Jed she’s drawn to… the one with the twinkling eyes, who teases her, and laughs with her, and soon steals her heart…
But does Jed love her back? Because—even though Amherst Island feels like home—Ellen knows she can’t stay there with a broken heart…
This is the first book in the unmissable Amherst Island Trilogy that follows the life and love of Ellen Copley from the magic of Lake Ontario to the bloody battlefields of the First World War and beyond. Perfect for fans of The Oceans Between Us, The Orphan Sisters, and My Name is Eva.
Previously published as Down Jasper Lane.
I don’t even know where to begin with this review for Kate Hewitt’s newest release, The Orphan’s Island. I have said quite a few times in the past that Hewitt is an autobuy author for me and while I have only read her contemporary books, I was quite unsure how I would feel reading a historical fiction story. Hewitt proves once again that she is the Queen of her craft. I am completely and thoroughly floored over how much I adored this book! So much so, that The Orphan Island has now replaced my all time favorite book by Hewitt, A Mother’s Goodbye (which I never thought would ever be possible!)
Ellen Copley was forced to grow up way too early having to leave the comforts of school to care for her sickly mother while her father was out working on railway engines. Ellen’s father always dreamed of his family leaving Scotland and heading over to America for a better life and when it finally happens, the tiny town in Vermont is not exactly what Ellen envisioned. Her father takes off not long after their arrival and Ellen is forced to live with her Uncle Hamish and his wife Ruth who is a stern woman with no children of her own. When Ellen gets an invite to come to Amherst island in Ontario by her aunt Rose, she leaves Vermont behind not sure what to expect. Little does Ellen know that her life is about to change. But, is Amherst Island a place where she can finally call home?
I just love Ellen! She is such a great character and so well written. I felt myself really drawn into her life, feeling sorry for her as a young girl tasked with taking care of a sick mother for much of her childhood and not ever really getting to experience being a child. The weight on her shoulders was astounding, but she coped as best she could. She didn’t fit in well with girls her own age and she felt so different than them. Ellen hopes things will change once coming to America, but once she arrives she misses home and finds that she still does not fit in. Ellen slowly starts to blossom on the farm in Amherst Island and here is where we see the woman she will become. It is also where she finds love for the first time in one of the neighbor boys.
The story itself really just pulls you right in and I found myself staying up way late into the evening just to finish the book. There are just so many things to like about Ellen’s journey from a child to a young adult and we are taken on that journey right along with her celebrating all the highs and weeping at some of the lows. There is a scene with a baby that just completely gutted me and the feelings and emotions Ellen experienced just completely ripped my heart in two. This is such a heartfelt coming of age story that I completely lost myself in.
Told with an undeniably raw honesty and realness, The Orphan Island is sure to be a keeper for your bookshelves. I can’t wait to continue Ellen’s journey with the second book in the series, Dreams of the Island.