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Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.

Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#1 by bookowlie
» 31 Aug 2017, 10:44

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Kitchen Canary" by Joanne C. Parsons.]

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4 out of 4 stars
Review by bookowlie
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Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons is a historical novel about two young Irish immigrants living in Boston after the Civil War. Katie O’Neil is pushed (basically forced) by her destitute parents to move alone to America in order to earn money to send home. A job in Boston awaits, working alongside her cousin Moira Murphy as a domestic for an affluent family. Katie discovers the harsh realities of immigrant life, as Irish Catholics are treated poorly in Boston and her employer views her as his property in more ways than one. Although Moira finds a way out of her job through marriage, her painful memories may keep her from finding lasting happiness.

I absolutely loved this book and found it difficult to put down. The author has a real talent for describing the experiences of immigrants travelling like a pack of sardines on a ship, in search of a better life in America. The reality of the American dream is excellently written through the eyes of the main characters, as life in Boston is certainly not what they expected.

The story is told mainly in third person in alternating perspectives. These different points of view allow the reader a full picture of the hardships and prejudices Irish immigrants faced during this time period. There are also a few chapters in first person that highlight the backstories of some of the characters, including Moira’s husband Paddy and the women’s employers, Mr. and Mrs. Brennan. These first-person chapters are vividly written in a memoir style and give depth to the story.

The characters are well drawn and each of the supporting characters adds an interesting layer to the plot. There are also a few intriguing side stories, such as a local priest who manages the transport of Irish babies borne from rape, and Rose Brennan’s late-night conversations with Katie.

The author’s clear imagery made me feel like I was watching a movie. Moira and Katie get “nighttime visits” by Mr. Brennan. These rape scenes are made all the more heartbreaking by the revelations that this was a common occurrence between Irish women and their male employers during this period.

This well-written gem has certainly earned the highest rating, 4 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and stories about the immigrant experience. If you like curling up with a good book and getting whisked away to another place and time, Kitchen Canary is a perfect choice.

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Kitchen Canary
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#2 by gali
» 31 Aug 2017, 23:02

A novel about two young Irish immigrants that "whisks you away to another place and time" sounds enticing. I am glad you enjoyed the book so much. Great review as always! :)
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#3 by bookowlie
» 31 Aug 2017, 23:44

Thanks Gali for the kind words! Katie and Moira are two characters I won't soon forget.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#4 by Amagine
» 01 Sep 2017, 04:12

I love how the story is told from the perspective of immigrants. It helps give readers more knowledge about the things that immigrants have to face. It sounds like it will make readers sympathetic as well.

Great Review! 🌾
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#5 by kandscreeley
» 01 Sep 2017, 07:22

This is high praise! It sounds like a book I would enjoy. I also think the title is quite unique. Thanks for another great review. I'll have to check this one out.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#6 by bookowlie
» 01 Sep 2017, 10:36

Thanks Amagine and Kandscreeley! Kandscreeley, the term "kitchen canary" was used as a derogatory name for Irish immigrants who worked as domestics.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#7 by kandscreeley
» 01 Sep 2017, 10:54

Interesting. I figured it was something like that. Thanks for letting me know!
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#8 by bookowlie
» 01 Sep 2017, 10:59

I agree, it was interesting to find out the meaning of the title. However, I don't think it's one of those titles that make people want to find out more about the book.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#9 by charlesjr2
» 01 Sep 2017, 11:19

It would be really intresting to get a glimpse of what immigrants have to endure in search for a so called greener pasture.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#10 by ReadingRebecca
» 01 Sep 2017, 12:26

Hi, bookowlie! When you stopped by to comment on my review earlier, I saw Kitchen Canary as your latest review. Something about the title intrigued me, so I thought I'd check it out. I'm glad I did. It sounds like one I would like. I plan to skim/skip the rape scenes, though, since they give me the wrong kind of chills and haunt my mind far too long afterwards.

-- September 1st, 2017, 12:27 pm --

bookowlie wrote:I agree, it was interesting to find out the meaning of the title. However, I don't think it's one of those titles that make people want to find out more about the book.

Lol. I just saw this after I posted my comment. I guess this proved different in my case. :lol:
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#11 by geoffrey ngoima
» 01 Sep 2017, 16:04

I am developing a thing for historical fictions, finding that thing in people's lives that touch yours in ways only it can. I'd also like to add onto my knowledge of immigrant experience seeing as I plan on being one soon. :lol2:
Nice review, I got a lot just from reading thru it
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#12 by bookowlie
» 01 Sep 2017, 19:27

Thanks everyone for the feedback! ReadingRebecca, that's funny. :) When I saw the book on the review book list, I was drawn more to the genre than the title. Until I read the summary, I thought the canary signified a mobster who "sang" on his fellow mobsters. LOL
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#13 by bookiegalke
» 02 Sep 2017, 01:28

immigrants have different experiences depending on the kind of environment they find themselves in. this book is the story of an immigrant who found herself in a hostile environment. such a story is appealing to me.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#14 by bookowlie
» 02 Sep 2017, 09:06

Bookiegalke - I really enjoyed this story. It made me want to learn more about the immigrant experience during this period.
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Re: Official Review: Kitchen Canary by Joanne C. Parsons

Post Number:#15 by IsabelMay
» 03 Sep 2017, 02:57

I can't imagine how hard moving to another continent for a job must be, plus they are abused by the employers. It's dreadful, I don't think I can handle this book but thanks for pointing out that it's written in altering POVs, I personally like to read such stories.
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