Book review – The Ballroom Cafe by Ann O’Loughlin…

Sisters Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan live in separate wings of their crumbling Irish mansion. They haven’t spoken for decades, torn apart by a dark family secret from their past, and only communicate through the terse and bitter notes they leave for each other in the hallway.
Debbie, an American woman, is searching for her birth mother. She has little time left but as she sets out to discover who she really is and what happened to her mother, she is met by silence and lies at the local convent.
With the bank threatening, Ella tries to save the family home by opening a café in the ballroom much to Roberta’s disgust. And when Debbie offers to help out in the café, the war between the sisters intensifies. But as Debbie finally begins to unravel the truth, she uncovers an adoption scandal that will rock both the community and the warring sisters.
This is Ann O’Loughlin’s first novel. The story begins with Ella facing a battle with her bank manager to protect her beloved home. The cafe is the idea she has to save her home from the bank.
Ella is a strong woman who has been through a great deal of pain in her life. As we get to know her character, we discover that underneath her armour, she is a sweet and vulnerable woman also. Her sister, Rosemary, is a brusque, rude woman who drinks far too much.
Ella, Rosemary and Debbie all have secrets which are slowly revealed as the story progresses. The sense of sadness running through this story permeates every word that the author writes.
I love the way the author painted such a beautiful picture of how life in rural Ireland can be. From the start of the book we are lead into to the stunning countryside and given a picture of life in rural Ireland. 
The book deals with a grim and sadly very true part of Ireland’s past. Yet it does this with compassion.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book very much, but I did. Well worth a look. 4 out of 5 stars.


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