Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan | Rating: Rating: ★★★★☆
Empire Girls was a breath of fresh air in terms of the books that I’ve read this year. I didn’t expect to like it half as much as I did, but the fact of the matter is you can’t help but to adore the two main characters, these two Empire Girls. There’s something that is just incredibly lovely and likeable about both Ivy and Rose Adams.
Our plot is simple: two sisters, unlike each other in many ways, embark on a search for their half brother after the unexpected death of their beloved father. Up until their dad’s death, they hadn’t even known he’d had another child and now their lives very much so depend on finding this mysterious brother. Their path takes them to New York City and the timeline lays in the 20s.
Kirkus Reviews tells us that it is “Engaging, charming and moving" and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a love letter to New York City, in all times and space, as well as a showcase to how important the love between sisters can be even in those moments of doubt. Empire Girls is light but holds great meaning and plots; it’s a story full of so much heart and colors. This is the sort of book one would finish quickly and happily: a smile upon your face.
Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan do an excellent job at bringing this story to life. They both bring life to the sisters, and the characters they meet along the way, and show us a colorful world in the vein of New York City in the roaring twenties. I applaud the heart that they loaned to the story and find myself believing in both Rose and Ivy. They feel real. They feel lovely. Their adventures in this new side of life are believable and intriguing; their growth doesn’t come overnight but gradually through the course of the story.
There’s heartbreak, too, in the story. Aside from the death of their father, both girls experience this new feeling of loss as they try and try to find their brother. And then, when they do — well, I won’t spoil it.
The secrets and truths they unravel while staying at the Empire House. Together, the sisters learn how to be, well, sisters and find themselves on levels that they would never had, had they not gone to New York. They find a family in unlikely places and it’s all rather beautiful, really. There’s minor elements of romance — which many will feel rushed, but I’d like you to remember that the story takes place long ago — and it meshes really well with the other plots without taking over.
Overall, Empire Girls was a delight to read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys light romance, family stories and period pieces. It’s certainly one of my highlights of my year in reading.