Book Club: It Was Only Ever You

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Author: Kate Kerrigan
ISBN: 9781786691422
RRP: $29.99

It Was Only Ever You is the story of a different time, in two different places. We are taken back to the 1950s in both Ireland and New York. A time of dance halls, swing bands and the birth of rock and roll.


Kerrigan illustrates the close relationship between Ireland and New York in a time when immigration was prevalent and if you could  find the fare there wasn’t much standing in the way of you beginning a new life across the ocean. The Irish in New York all settle in the same area, and it becomes a home away from home almost.

Patrick Murphy is a talented singer from a working class family in County Mayo, Ireland. He finds himself in a sticky situation that sees him offered the opportunity to travel to New York and chase his dream of becoming a famous musician. This could lead to the realisation of his dreams and he can’t say no, so he packs his things and leaves without proper goodbyes. The life he finds in New York is not quite what he had been led to believe but he is sure that he can find a way to achieve all he set out to do.

Ava Brogan is an Irish girl in New York, dancing her nights away in the dance halls  and knowing she will never be the pretty one. Her mother is plotting to find her a husband and Ava couldn’t be less interested. Her build is all wrong and she’s come to terms with that, until the day she sees a prestigious designer who finds her the right outfit; the one that makes her feel beautiful and confident and glamorous.

Sheila Klein is also a New Yorker, though she comes from a different part of town. A survivor of the holocaust she has been raised in New York by her aunt and uncle and dreams of finding a star and making her name in the music industry. An industry that is still male dominated and which refuses to take her seriously.

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The stories of these three characters are very different but of course they all cross paths throughout the course of the novel. I found the story to be engrossing and interesting. New York in the 1950s is not a period I am familiar with but Kerrigan takes us inside the birth of rock and roll, and into a time where the Irish were moving to New York in droves and not always the way they thought it would work when they left home. Instead of moving forwards into a new life they found themselves sleeping rough and paid a pittance while they worked off the debts they racked up with their employers for their passage. The poverty they faced in Ireland is nothing compared to what they arrived to in New York.

Ava Brogan is the daughter of an Irish American insurance broker who also does a lot of work with the poor Irish immigrants and she has inherited some of his philanthropic tendencies. Her paths cross with Patrick a few times, and she steers him in the direction of her father to try and get him out of the horrible position he is in at the Golf Club he has been working in since his arrival in New York.

All of the characters in It Was Only Ever You are deftly interwoven into each others lives, they all travel through their time in New York until a blast from Patrick’s past arrives to completely rock the boat and leave everyone in turmoil.

I was invested in this story and all of its characters from very early on. I wanted to know how it all came together and how it all played out.

In the first half of the book we switch from County Mayo to New York with regularity but the passage of time seems to be different in each place. Sometimes when we skipped from New York to County Mayo months seemed to have passed and the characters in each place were in slightly different times so the events didn’t quite match up. It took a little while to get used to but I think it also helped to build the suspense and keep the intrigue in the story.

It Was Only Ever You is a story of love, loss and following your dreams, a tale of the hard road we sometimes take to our happily ever afters and a lesson in the grass not always being greener. This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who loves the romance of times long past and the history of New York in the 1950s.

Kate Kerrigan can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and the Kate Kerrigan website.

It Was Only Ever You is available now from Harper Collins Australia, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading It Was Only Ever You so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments. I look forward to hearing what they think.

 

10 thoughts on “Book Club: It Was Only Ever You

  1. She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah! It Was Only Ever You is a romantic story about three strong, young women and their relationships with one charming man living in New York City. It’s an engrossing, light and sweet tale that will leave you wondering how it will end and who will wind up with whom.

    This story is set in an almost identical place to Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. It is the 1950s and a time when many Irish people made a passage in order to have a new life in America. Instead of focusing on one main protagonist, Kate Kerrigan frames the story though a group of young people. Her prose is quite light and whimsical at times and for this reason, it occasionally reminds me of Marian Keyes’s work.

    Kate Kerrigan’s real name is Morag Prunty and she is a journalist and best-selling author. Her most famous novel is The Dress. In It Was Only Ever You Kerrigan provides a smoking soundtrack and backdrop that takes in jazz, ballads and early rock ‘n’ roll. It is a period when people were just learning how to rock around the clock and they did so with gusto. Kerrigan’s main character, Patrick is a dreamboat by all accounts and a fledgling singer.

    Patrick was a poor boy from County Mayo in Ireland. He found love in the form of an artistic, rich girl and Doctor’s daughter named Rose. The pair were besotted but Rose’s parents did not approve of the relationship. Patrick’s head was also filled with big ambitions of his own. He leaves Ireland and goes to New York while his heart pines for Rose and he works a lowly job because he is indebted to his employer. This world is a very different one to that inhabited by a caring socialite named Ava. She is an idealistic girl who is aware that she won’t win any prizes for her looks. Ava remains optimistic however, and continues to frequent the dance halls in the hopes of finding a nice husband.

    Shelia is the most interesting character of them all. The orphan of parents who died during the Holocaust, Shelia is the kind of girl who is determined and knows exactly what she wants. Shelia is a vanguard and an inspiration. She is trying to forge her own way in the music industry, a world that is almost exclusively controlled by men. It’s fortunate that Shelia has a nose for talent and she hopes she can discover music’s next big thing.

    It Was Only Ever You is like a patchwork quilt of different emotions that show a group of young people falling in and out of love and discovering themselves. This is a story about love, loss and following your dreams and it is set amongst the glamourous New York nightclub scene of yesteryear. The story features some likeable and well-developed characters and the story feels very authentic. It Was Only Ever You is a pleasant book to read not least because it shows a group of fine characters marching to the beat of their own drums.

  2. ‘It was only ever you ‘ revolves around three young women and a handsome Irish singer Patrick Murphy.

    It is New York in the heady days of dance halls and New York Irish show bands playing their version of rock and roll . The Emerald Room is where the Irish come to dance and find love.

    Ava Brogan a tall well built girl of Irish heritage is looking for love in the dance halls but is always overlooked due to her size and because she thinks she isn’t as pretty as the other Irish girls but once she finds her ‘style’ her confidence grows and so do her love interests.

    Sheila Klein who lost her family in the holocaust and has been living with her Aunt and Uncle in New York grieves for her lost family. She has a determination to make a living in the music industry but as a woman in a man’s world she struggles to make this happen.

    Rose Hopkins the Dr’s daughter in County Mayo Ireland is madly in love with Patrick who is not of the same social standing and knows her parents wouldn’t approve of. She has very over protective parents and they make a huge mistake which has serious ramifications.

    Patrick Murphy is looking to make his mark in the music industry. He is talked into travelling to New York to become famous and leaves behind his beloved Rose in Ireland.

    The characters all have the love of music in common and as their stories become entwined it is clear they are all searching for happiness in different ways.
    I loved the descriptions of life in fifties Ireland and New York.
    The characters are well developed and you can’t help but want them to find the happiness they long for. It is a story of love, loss and discovery.

  3. Late 1950’s Ireland and New York plays the backdrop to a book I would label my favourite romance of the year, which is Kate Kerrigan’s latest novel, It Was Only Ever You.

    Patrick Murphy is at the front and centre of It Was Only Ever You. Patrick is a young man with an incredible talent, who vows to make it big one day as a professional singer. Patrick is in love with a doctor’s daughter and aspiring artist named Rose however, their love is doomed from the start, as they come from completely different backgrounds. It is a love that will eventually take Patrick away from his homeland in Ireland, to the bright lights of New York city, where opportunity and a new love awaits.

    After reading Kate Kerrigan’s last novel, The Dress, I immediately declared myself a firm fan of Kerrigan’s work. Now that I have finished reading her latest novel, It Was Only Ever You, I will say that I absolutely adored this book – even more than The Dress. It is such a wonderfully crafted book, that for me it earns the title of the best romance book of the year. Kerrigan works hard at the opening of the novel to set her scene in 1950’s Ireland. I felt a strong and immediate sense of place, which also extended to Kerrigan’s depiction of the societal attitudes of the time. Kerrigan uses this as an opportunity to show the reader the extent of the class divide in Ireland, as well as the lure of greater opportunities abroad. This is where New York comes into the picture, which is also described in picture perfect detail. I loved that this book had a strong music based theme grounding it. The opportunity to become immersed in 1950’s rock and roll, as well as popular Irish ballads was fantastic. Kerrigan’s research into the music of the times is clearly evident, as it runs throughout the storyline.

    Characters are also a joy to connect with in It Was Only Ever You. Patrick, the lead protagonist, is cast perfectly as the charismatic Irish boy from a lower class background, who also gets embroiled in the lives of three very different women. The three women, Rose, Ava and Shelia, all play a part in Patrick’s life as the narrative progresses. Rose, Ava and Shelia are all equally interesting characters, with their own back stories to match. I found each of them likeable and very much appreciated that they had their own flaws. At many points of the novel it was hard to decide with which character you sympathies should lie.

    It Was Only Ever You is a book that I definitely could not put down and when I was eventually forced to, I couldn’t wait to get back into the story. I firmly believe this is a sign of Kerrigan’s evocative storytelling ability, it is very easy to get lost in her writing. The finale of It Was Only Ever You has got to be one of the most beautiful and poignant endings to a novel I have read for some time. I am sure it will stay with me long after finishing the book.

    It Was Only Ever You is a memorable tale, packed with love, loss, dreams and most importantly, the passion of music. It features a cast of endearing characters, who will be sure to occupy a space in your heart. Highly romantic, I recommend this book highly – five stars.

    *I wish to thank Beauty and Lace for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.

  4. The six degrees of separation sums this book up nicely. Everyone is connected but unknowingly so. Who would have thought that New York could be so small…

    Patrick Murphy, Irish, charming and a voice that liberates the soul. He’s everything going for him but being sent to New York does not seem to be all that its cracked up to be. He went for fame and fortune, to better himself for love, but dishes and disaster lies waiting on his arrival.

    Ava, a well bred Irish-New Yorker, is not all that to look at but she makes up for her looks by being smart and one crazy dancer. Good breeding and exposure should lead her to a life of style and sophistication. Her parents had high hopes for her but life takes an unexpected turn. Her new found style, elevating her self worth, open doors she thought would never exist for her. Is love on her horizon?

    Rose, naive with beauty to spare, this Irish angel has the ability to draw pictures that bring life into art. So why then does she give up her prospects and turn on her middle class “happy” life? Does the look of a blonde angel hide a sinister soul that wants only for herself without the consideration of others? Surely not!

    Sheila, orphaned by the war and growing up in New York with her Jewish Aunt and Uncle. Did Hitler take more from her than her family? A shell of a person, taking life in each day and heading for trouble. Can she be all that she wants to be or is she destined to find the other side of deep dark New York where gangsters rule and those who betray them are “dealt” with.

    Follow these characters as their lives intertwine and almost become one. Take yourself to the dance halls and listen to the songs of the past. Wait for romance to sweep in to save the day, only to find that love is a fickle creature that thrives on drama, betrayal, heartache, tragedy and torment.

    One love they all have in common, the only one for them all, “It was only ever you” tells tale of the undisclosed love, yet it’ll have you guessing till the end.

    While following so many characters is sometimes confusing to me it does all pull together. An enjoying and easy read that takes you in and when its done leaves you thinking… Is a sequel in the making?

  5. What a gorgeous romance with intriguing characters and a storyline to boot! Another wonderful writer with a captivating style of writing to really get you hooked. This novel pulled at my heart strings and it was just so addictive because I didnt want to stop reading this book till the end.
    Kate Kerrigan has me wanting for more of her books that is how great this book is.
    Thanks Beauty and Lace for taking me away to another place and time as I really needed this outlet right now and these books you choose for us all to review, I havent found one yet that I dont like.
    So to anyone who wants to go on a beautiful journey you should get yourself immersed in this book and others here 🙂

  6. What a brilliant book. I thoroughly enjoyed the history of the story. Although there are many characters it was easy to follow and absolutely compelling. It makes me dream of living in times such as this – not the hardships perhaps lol
    Kate Kerrigan you have me hooked!

    I also need to add – my review is short and sweet.. previous reviews are wonderful and I fully concur!

  7. I enjoyed this story based around 3 ladies each with a different relationship with up coming young singer Patrick Murphy. Ava who is connected through her
    love of the dance and music where she can lose herself and take a step away from her daily life, Sheila who has a love of the music industry and connects with Patrick when she realises his talent and Rose whose love for him pushes her to run away from home to find him. Many challenges in the story is created for each lady, however, their love for Patrick is a main connection. Patrick, I see is the weakest character but without him the ladies would not grow. A truly wonderful love story, a must read to the end and a novel to pass along for many to read.

  8. ‘It Was Only Ever You’ is set in the 1950’s in Ireland and New York. IT is set during a time when many Irish People left Ireland for America and what they hoped would better/new life. Patrick Murphy , our main character, is an up and coming singer who was one of these people. He leaves behind his childhood sweetheart , Rose and moves to New York to follow his dreams.
    The story explores this challenge and his relationship with the three women in his life. Rose, his childhood sweetheart and the two he meets in America, Ava and Sheila.
    This book had me entranced right from the start. It did not disappoint. I was so immersed in the story I did not want to put this book down. I needed to know what would happen to Patrick and which girl he would end up with in the end.
    Thank you Kate Kerrigan and Beauty and Lace for such an enjoyable read. Have already recommended it to my friends.

  9. It is the 1950s and a time when many Irish people made a passage in order to have a new life in I thoroughly enjoyed the history of the story. Although there are many characters it was easy to follow and absolutely compelling.
    Patrick is in love with a doctor’s daughter and aspiring artist named Rose however, their love is doomed from the start, as they come from completely different backgrounds. It is a love that will eventually take Patrick away from his homeland in Ireland, to the bright lights of New York city, where opportunity and a new love awaits.

  10. I found ‘It Was Only Ever You’ by Kate Kerrigan to be beautifully written. The characters truly came to life in my mind as they were developed so well at the start of the book and then woven together to create a perfect ending.

    Patrick is an Irishman with big dreams and a creative soul, who ends up in America to pursue a career in music. He leaves behind his childhood sweetheart Rose, who is seemingly young and naive at first. Patrick is introduced to a new world and with that a new woman too, this is where Ava comes into his life. She is fueled by the passion that forms between them.

    I really enjoyed getting to know Sheila, a feisty but determined woman who would go above and beyond to make her dreams come true and unexpectedly gets caught by love along the way.

    I would highly rate this book and tell others all about it! Thank you beauty and lace for introducing me to the work of Kate Kerrigan.

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