by Jonatha Ceely
Category: Fiction / Historical
350 pages; ISBN: 038533690X
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Delacorte, Apr 2004, $21.95
By 1848 her sister and her parents died due to the potato famine, but fifteen year old Mina still lives with her dream of making it to the United States though her one effort ended with the ship catching fire and sinking. To survive Mina changes her sex becoming Paddy so she can earn a living as a stable hand on a country estate. Over time, “Paddy” is promoted to work as an assistant to the Italian chef Mr. Serle, sharing a room with him. Mina reveals her true gender to her boss, but he keeps her revelation secret from their employer.
Serle informs Mina that he is a Jew who fled the poverty of the Rome ghetto. He too dreams of America where he hopes to one day open a restaurant and make his fortune. Both begin to wonder if they pool their resources, could they achieve what they failed to accomplish separately. That means trusting the other something neither is used to doing.
MINA is a deep historical tale that shines a powerful microscope on mid nineteenth century Ireland and England. The story line is incredibly descriptive as Jonatha Ceely fill MINA with historical data like the workings of a Victorian kitchen, but that also keeps the pace of the plot at a leisurely stroll. Still genre fans will take delight with this insightful picturesque look back at a bygone era through the eyes of two survivors that is ideal fill in reading over a few days.
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