Thursday, March 30, 2023

Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: The Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce Donovan

Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce Donovan
The Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce Donovan 
Publisher: DX Varos Publishing (March 7, 2023) 
Category: Literary Fiction, British and Irish Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction 
Tour Dates March 13-April 11, 2023 
ISBN: 978-1955065702 
Available in Print and ebook
396 pages 
Campbell Sisters

Description Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce Donovan

Helen Campbell is the eldest and most practical of three sisters, daughters of hard-working Irish emigrants living in New York City in the 1950s. She does what she can to keep the wild-child middle sister, Carolyn, in line and support the youngest, Peggy, as she pursues her dreams of becoming a doctor. Then Helen meets Charlie. While it's love at first sight for those two, Carolyn’s antics threatens to derail all the sisters’ future happiness. However, through thick and thin, the three sisters strive to prevail, though not necessarily in the ways they thought they wanted.


In this excerpt from The Campbell Sisters, Helen and Charlie are on their first date and Charlie, a professional boxer, takes Helen to Sillman’s Gym to watch a fight. 

“Thought we’d take in tonight’s fight. What do you think Helen? Excited?” Charlie pointed to a man sitting at a desk in the corner. “That’s Lou Stillman. He owns the place. He always sits right there so he can watch the door and make sure no one gets in without paying. And I mean no one. If some celebrity tries it, Lou yells, ‘Pay up, ya bum.’ He’s great.”

While Charlie talked, he pulled Helen over to the gallery seats. “These seats okay?”

Helen looked at the wooden folding chairs in a daze. “They’re fine, Charlie.”

“Swell. You want something to drink? There’s a counter in the back that sells food at lunch, but they might still have some sodas or something.”

“No, I’m fine.” Helen couldn’t imagine eating or drinking anything. It was tough enough to hold her dinner down. She knew the gym’s stench would stay in her nose for days, and she’d probably never get it out of Carolyn’s sweater.

“Hey, Charlie,” someone called from across the room.

“Joe! Didn’t expect to see him here tonight. Helen, mind if I go over and get Joe? He’s my trainer. Gee, this is great. I really want you to meet him, okay?”

“Sure, I’ll be right here when you get back.”

Charlie squeezed her shoulder. “Save the seat next to you for Joe. I’ll put my cap on my seat.” . . . 

“Helen, I want you to meet my trainer, Joe Hayes. Joe, Helen Campbell.”

“Nice to meet you, Helen,” Joe said, pulling off his fedora and shaking her hand. “Whatever did a pretty young lady like you see in this bum?”

“Don’t pay any attention to him, Helen. He just wishes he’d met you first. Joe, grab the seat next to Helen. . . “

. . . the bell rang and the referee jumped into the ring to announce the fighters. There wasn’t an emcee or announcer like Helen had seen on the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports TV show she sometimes watched with her father. This was much more informal. The referee read the night’s card and the two boxers climbed into the ring amid both cheers and jeers.

Charlie came back to his seat just as the bell rang to start the first round. The two men on either side of Helen could have been on another planet. They were so fixated on the action in the ring, it was like she wasn’t even there. The bell rang again to signal the end of Round 1.

“Do you see the way Hank’s flat footing it?” Joe asked. “He won’t last long unless he starts to tap dance.”

“You’re right. And he’s not covering his left side at all,” Charlie said.

Helen sat mute while the two men critiqued the boxers’ performances. The bell rang for Round 2.

“Did you see that, Helen?” Joe asked after one boxer landed a punch. “That’s called an upper cut. You try to get in under the other guy’s defenses and land one on his chin.”

“That must hurt. I’m amazed anyone has any teeth after a punch like . . .”

Helen’s voice drifted off. She stared across the ring at a couple who had just arrived and were trying to find two seats together.

“Helen? You all right?” Joe asked.

Charlie was busy discussing the fight with another boxer who sat on his left.

“Charlie,” Joe yelled over the noise of the gym, “something’s wrong with Helen.”

“What?” Charlie turned and looked at her. All the color had drained from her face and she stared straight ahead, not responding to either of them.

“Helen,” Charlie yelled, shaking her arm. “Helen, what is it? What happened, Joe?”

“I swear, I don’t know. She was fine one minute, then the next, she turned into a statue, just staring across the ring.”

Charlie looked over to where Helen stared. He didn’t see anything unusual.

“Helen.” He grabbed her chin and swung her head around to face him. “Helen, say something.”

Her eyes focused on his and she shook her head. “What? What’s the matter?”

“Oh, thank God you’re all right. Joe and I thought you were having a fit or something.”

“A fit? What are you talking about? Charlie, that makes no sense at all.”

“Helen,” Joe said, “we were talking and all of a sudden you stopped and froze. Scared me to death, I have to say. What happened?”

“I . . . I don’t know. Maybe the fight . . . being up this close . . . I don’t know. And . . . and I thought I saw someone I know.”

“Do you want to leave, or go say hello to whoever you saw?” Charlie asked.

“No. No, I’m fine now. Honest. And it wasn’t the person I thought it was. Sorry to have caused you both to worry.”

“You’re sure?” Charlie asked.

Helen nodded, but Charlie grabbed her hand and didn’t leave his seat for the rest of the fight. Joe kept one eye on the fight and one on her for the next few rounds.

She was aware of their concern, but she knew what had happened had nothing to do with the fight or the gym. One half of the couple who came in late was her sister, Carolyn. And when the man with her removed his hat, and gave Carolyn a loving kiss, the gym’s lights glittered off his gold wedding band.

© Eileen Joyce Donovan

Awards and Praise for Eileen Joyce Donovan

2019 Marie M Irvine Award for Promises, 2021 When Word Count competition for A Lady Newspaperman’s Dilemma “This story is well written and immerses the reader in the period rooting for Alex. At times, I found her decisions a bit rash, but I remembered myself fighting for my career in a male-dominated field. The story is well-researched, and I enjoyed it immensely.”- Carol Amorosi, Author of The MacKay Mysteries, Series “It was compelling to read of the mores of the time: school teachers couldn't drink in public, staying at a boarding house came with a set of restrictive rules and trying to get lead stories in a newspaper entailed being part salesperson/part private investigator. With the role of newspapers and reporters being in the news of late, this depiction of a young woman learning the ropes in a competitive, male dominated field was fascinating in the scope of how tough it is to get a story right.”- Susan Wands, Author of Magician and Fool “I don't normally read historical fiction, but I so enjoyed this book set in the 1920's. The theme is timeless as the main character is determined to make it in a man's world. Great read!”- Stacy Wilder, Author of A Liz Adams Mystery, Series “The characters and fast paced plot drew me in and kept me reading. I enjoyed the historical details and the fact that every time I thought I knew how a character would react, I was wrong. The author is too skilled to fall into stereotypes.”- Grammarian, Amazon Review

Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce DonovanAbout Eileen Joyce Donovan

Eileen Joyce Donovan has been writing her entire life, in one way or another, whether it was imaginative stories for friends, or advertising copy for clients. At the persistent urging of her husband, she finally agreed to seriously edit and revise one of her stories and take the plunge. Years later, her persistence paid off and both her debut historical fiction, Promises, and her second novel, A Lady Newspaperman’s Dilemma, won prestigious awards. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, and her essays have been included in various Chicken Soup for the Soul editions. She lives in Manhattan, New York and is a member of Authors Guild, Women’s National Book Association, Women Fiction Writers Association, and The Historical Novel Society. Twitter:

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Campbell Sisters by Eileen Joyce Donovan

My Review

The Campbell Sisters is my first introduction to the talents of Eileen Joyce Donovan. After reading this book, it will not be the last. I found this story of three sisters of Irish heritage living in New York City during the 1950s. It was entertaining to see how the three lived and their relationship with each other. It was delightful to read their antics in their daily lives and in finding love. I really liked reading their tale.

I am giving The Campbell Sisters four and a half stars. I recommend for readers who enjoy reading historical fiction. I will most definitely will be looking forward for more releases by Elain Joyce Donovan in the near future. This one should not be missed. 

I received a digital copy of The Campbell Sisters from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you enjoyed 'The Campbell Sisters'! Thanks for hosting Eileen's excerpt!