The Ballroom Cafe – 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.

Powerful and poignant, The Ballroom Café is a moving story of love lost and found.

My Review:  This is a moving and lovely story of two elderly sisters, Ella and Roberta who live in a run-down Irish mansion and only communicate through notes, having not spoken to each other for decades.  Ella has no alternative but to open their home to the public as a cafe to try to raise money as the bank are threatening to take their home away.

Throughout the book we learn the secrets of the sisters, the tragedies that have affected the O’Callaghan family and why the sisters don’t speak to each other.  It is however the stories about the forced adoptions and the scandal involving the Catholic Church which makes this book stand out from the usual contemporary novels.  Based on true stories, my heart broke reading the pain and anguish these young women endured having their babies taken away from them and given to wealthy Americans.

The Ballroom Cafe is an emotional and beautiful story of families, secrets, guilt, love and a lovely cup of tea.  Highly recommend.

About the Author: A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children.

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