Friday, September 21, 2012

Band Of Sisters | Cathy Gohlke | Book Review & Giveaway

Band Of Sisters
by Cathy Gohlke

{ About This Book }

Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Despite her family’s disapproval, Olivia Wakefield determines to honor her father’s debt but can’t find Maureen. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, whom Olivia begins to see as more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he’s hiding. As women begin disappearing from the store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen take a stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

{ My Thoughts On This Book }

This book moved me to tears. There are certain things I expect to encounter in my historical romantic fiction, and I'm sad to say that perception altering characters and narrative are not typically among them (though I have read some excellent exceptions lately). In Band Of Sisters, Cathy Gohlke brings to life an era in American history that is dark and full of human tragedy, and she does it in the most incredible and moving manner; simply incredible!

I relate to the fear and helplessness expressed by the main character and many of the other women in this book. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation, I care deeply about the issue of "white slavery" addressed in this story, and I am thrilled to see a novel come out that deal with these issues head on, and with incredible talent in the telling! Cathy has done a fantastic job, both in penning a compelling and gripping story that draws you in and connects you heart to heart with the young Irish immigrant, Maureen, and fills you with alarm and conviction as you realize that while the heroine is fabricated, the historical events are not. Women truly were abducted and forced into prostitution, and their oppressors did often get away with it. The most shocking realization, however, is that white slavery still exists all over the world.

The most moving moment in this story, for me, was at the very end, in the description of the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory fire. I remember reading about it in one of my history books as a teenager, but the factual nature of that tome failed to convey the horror and tragedy of hundreds of women and children leaping to their deaths rather than burn when the fire fighters could not reach the upper floors of the factory. A history book cannot send the scent of singed hair, the sight of arms crossed, hair streaming as a young woman plunges to the streets from six stories up, or the sound of thousands of onlookers crying and screaming as their loved ones perish.

It took me three attempts to read that scene, and I emptied my tissue box in the process. I have never, in all my life and years of reading, been moved to sob into my hands the way I was while reading that scene in Band Of Sisters.

I highly recommend this book to absolutely everyone! And I challenge you to look on it, not as just another great story, but as a challenge to find out how you can make a difference in the fight against white slavery.

{ About The Author }

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award–winning author of William Henry is a Fine Name and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires, which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award and was listed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2008. Her newest book, Band of Sisters, released this month, September, 2012.

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children’s and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, make their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Maryland.

You can connect with Cathy on her website and on Facebook. Check back tomorrow for a special Q&A interview with Cathy Gohlke about her new book!

{ Buy This Book }

You can purchase this book here.

{ Win This Book }

Cathy Gohlke has generously offered a copy of Band Of Sisters to one of my readers here on Our Little Bit Of Wonderful! To be entered to win, simply complete the mandatory entry on the Rafflecopter form below, and be at least 18 years old (the winner may be from any location worldwide). Additional entry options will appear after you complete the mandatory entry, and you may complete as many or as few as you like for extra chances to win. This offer is VOID where prohibited by law. And don't forget to check out the author interview with Cathy, tomorrow, here on the blog!

{ Disclosure }

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and this post is in compliance with FTC regulations. Learn more by visiting my PR and Disclosure pages.


  1. Well dang, after that review I feel I *must* read this book! Crazy! I remember reading about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in history, and I remember being sort of traumatized just reading the account of what happened. This book sounds heartwrenching, but worth it. Hope I win!

  2. I learned that she wrote her first book in the 5th grade.

  3. Alena, your compelling review of "Band of Sisters" warmed and moved my heart. You've truly captured the purpose behind the book, and understood the heart of the characters. Thank you for sharing this journey.

    The Triangle Waist Factory fire was indeed horrific, and I, too, had trouble getting through that--on the writing end!

    Deb K--I didn't write an entire book in 5th grade, but I did write a long story--my first historical fiction. I'm just thankful that nobody checked my facts in those long ago days! : )

    God's blessings for each of you!

    1. Thank you, Cathy, I'm so glad you liked my review! Thank you for the opportunity to read your book, and for giving a copy away to my readers :) I can't imagine trying to write such a heart wrenching scene, and you did a phenomenal job.


Thanks for reading my blog post! I can't wait to hear your comments. If you have a general question, or want to contact me about something not related to this post, please use the form found on my Contact page. Thanks! *smiles*