Recent Reviews for Robert Noonan
Bridie's Daughter (Book) - 8/18/2010 6:25:03 PM|
BOOK REVIEW: BRIDIE’S DAUGHTER By Robert Noonan
[Reviewer Charlotte Liebel, M.Ed.]
The suspenseful and entertaining Bridie’s Daughter is Robert Noonan’s second book in the series, the Orphan Train Trilogy. Readers will recognize characters introduced in his first book called Wildflowers who create mysterious connections to new events with intriguing new adults and children. Their past circumstances return to haunt readers as they recognize signals of previous dangerous encounters. However, even without such knowledge, the author prepares an explanation with background. This book is explosive.
Noonan’s stories are reminiscent of American Literature by John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath – 1939, Irving Stone The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Novel of Michelangelo – 1961, and Edith Wharton The House of Mirth – 2002. The Orphan Train Trilogy was inspired by an amazing saga of 200,000 orphaned American children during the years 1854 to 1929. Robert Noonan’s historical novels touch a mere portion of these lives.
Children of all ages awaken with anticipation in the early hours as the day arrives when they will board the Orphan Train. The orphans hope the journey from New York City to Western states leads to their adoption.
At six-thirty on June 8, 1899, following breakfast, the boys and girls dress and pack their meager belongings at the dormitory. They are well mannered and supportive of one another. A young girl worries lest she not find loving parents while a child of ten comforts and reassures the three year old. There are few teenagers but Catherine Hayes and Brian Hampton are among the 20 boys and 17 girls from the orphanage.
During the train ride, Brian and Catherine become friends with Monica and Jason. Brian and Jason have each lived on the streets of New York and discuss details of their personal survival there. Catherine and Monica share their attraction toward the young boys and other personal data. Early on, readers champion the hopes of these beloved children.
Adoptive parents, too, have agendas for needing or wanting children in their households. Tender hearted parents of their small town where Catherine and Brian are adopted form family alliances. The losses of a child’s parents are features of their adaptations to adoptive parents throughout the unfolding stories that play heavily on people’s hearts in these tales. They tenderize even the most resolute reader.
Significant historical American Indian lore adds charm and links to future relational incidents because of a visit to the County Fair. One child chances to meet with a former friend at The Fair and the result is that several children become friends. Friendships and travel become the new adventure of their lives as bonds deepen. Children and adoptive parents become increasingly attached and share chaperon functions as train travel increases from one or another town.
Secrets of the past, child and adult courtships, involved confidences, and provocative encounters due to secret communications, all tend to complicate lives. Chaotic conflicts are artfully weaved by storyteller Robert Noonan so as to cause anxiety to his captive audiences.
Secrets (Book) - 6/15/2010 5:48:03 PM
SECRETS by Robert Noonan [Review: Charlotte Liebel, M.Ed.]
Award winning historical novelist Robert Noonan creates the story of Secrets to complete tales of his Orphan Train Trilogy. He fashions it around the children’s earlier 19th Century circumstances. Yet, Secrets stands alone as readers become involved in the lives of his past and newer characters in this third book. Those who have read his first two novels will be surprised at the developments in lives of favorite families. Noonan’s customary journeys develop with strange mysteries and intrigue – even, murder.
In early 20th Century: Secrets reintroduces family conflicts that serve to reach background mysteries in Wildflowers and Bridie’s Daughter. Stories show the desperate plight of 200,000 orphaned American children of New York during 1854-1929 until transported by so-called Orphan Trains to Western states for adoption.
Audiences follow youthful characters in Secrets who find adoptive parents. These are children whose lives produced many and complicated secrets. Imagine loss of parents by death and separation or escape from perils of murder and suicide.
* It is the beginning of the 20th Century and Bridie McDonald’s life is fulfilled with the adoption of teenager Catherine who arrives on the Orphan Train to her hometown of Newberry, Illinois. Bridie’s past overshadows her happiness until an unexpected love interest enters her life. But Bridie cannot move forward until she deals with the past. In a nearby town, Hillary is 14 years old and living with Kate and John her foster parents who left lots of history in Delaware. The textile mill owner is killed there as they leave and Kate knows who did it. Riveting moments occur when a person from the past shows up in their lives. Considering the family settles in an unlikely Mid-Eastern town, they are shocked to learn they’ve been discovered.
Noonan is a master at situations of intrigue and suspense. Just as lives of favorite children appear without problems, a stranger from the past rides into town. Noonan’s protagonists encounter disturbing events and bad timing. He is clever to generate interest in several families with their own set of activities. Additionally, he conjures interest by having characters interact with one or another family to create complex scenarios.
Wildflowers (Book) - 2/4/2010 7:22:23 PM
WILDFLOWERS (Orphan Train Trilogy) [Review: Charlotte Liebel, M.Ed.]
Robert Noonan, author, creates desperate relationships among 19th Century abused children in A Trilogy: Wildflowers, Bridie's Daughter, and Secrets. These books carry a social message. Orphan children are delivered on trains.
In WILDFLOWERS, suspenseful events at a seaport town uncover intrigue and murder. Romantic ties are severed and reunited. Heroines rescue children and heroes support their escapes. A Must-Read SERIES at Amazon Books and other booksellers.
Wildflowers: The First Story in the Orphan Train Trilogy
Author Robert Noonan [Reviewed: Charlotte Liebel]
In 1898, Hillary Cook is a child devoted to her widowed mother and at 11 years old works. The textile mill in town puts children to work in the factory in 12 hour shifts 6 days a week. She and her young acquaintances meet briefly at work and share church services at a distance. Two of her close friends at work meet Sunday afternoons for their only day off to explore their world of wildflowers and make-believe stories. A significant mystery to them is the talk of children being transferred through their town regularly by train. Disaster befalls one child, then another, and another. These are children known to these three best friends. They cannot ever imagine that one of them might become a victim soon but, in fact, disaster is imminent.
Tragedy and a horrible ending await a child these girls know from the textile mill and a father is to blame. Another child they know is last seen staring out the window of a passing train and none can give the reason. The children forge friendships and adapt to common practices of abuse, poverty, growing up too quickly, and low wages for long hours and dangerous working conditions. Through conversations of town folk, personal experiences, and escapes, these young girls are indoctrinated into harsh and abusive risk-taking that even more mature natures should not have to endure.
Such turmoil in the lives of timid young ladies starts them imagining what they would be capable of enduring in a worst case scenario. Little knowledge is available for them to learn what goes on behind closed doors of abandoned boys and girls. But they learn from worldly children they meet in the streets on a trip to town that some prostitute themselves to survive.
Never mind that the worst of characters is none other than the boss at work who waits for young girls to express needs making them vulnerable to his lecherous advances. Nothing is free in his office as he trades favor for favor.
Life's circumstances turn for the worst for Hillary, an only child, whose mother is desperately ill. One day, she becomes brave enough to ask for the boss's favor learning too late of his malicious intent when he offers to pay the rent and doctor bills. She lives with her degrading secret. Her only hope is to leave this town as soon as the opportunity presents itself.
Secrets (Book) - 7/2/2008 8:17:58 AM
You won't want to miss the final book in the orphan train trilogy by Robert Noonan!
Haunted by the Secrets of their past, Kate, John and Hillary Hanley had joined together as a family and established their home in Newberry, Illinois. Each of them had secrets from their past that continued to plague them even as their happiness and love grew each day.
For John who had been accused of a murder he did not commit, he knew the law could arrest him because the victim's brother was a wealthy influential man. The real murderer had manufactured evidence against him, but revenge could be satisfied whether guilt was real. John had left Alton, Delaware, to move west and hopefully outrun his accusers. Kate loved him and would follow him anywhere to be his bride.
But Kate had a secret, known only to her, that also caused her to leave Alton. Having her own revenge against her former boss, who had caused so much pain to her beloved Hillary, she had found Frank Dragus guilty and punishable by death. Would they some day come for her as well as John?
Hillary had a secret as well.
These Secrets carried into the final book in Noonan's trilogy are woven into the lives of other orphans that rode the trains to the west. And the trains also carried the families for visits from one home to another. Bridie's daughter becomes a close friend to Hillary, but Bridie has also found a reason to visit the homestead because Biff, Hillary's adopted Uncle had caught Birdie's attention. But before she could ever consider entering into a loving relationship, she was forced to deal with the secret from her past--and He was there at her home every day to remind her!!
There is just enough drama and suspense to move this heartwarming story forward. Noonan takes the time to "create" the period into which we may fall, enjoying fairs, home-made cider, dressing up as squaws to get pictures taken . . .
By now, each of Noonan's characters had become familiar and I wanted to be sure that all would be well with each of them. Thankfully, that did happen! I've likened The Orphan Train Trilogy to the television series and books, Little House on the Prairie. I think you will agree. Robert Noonan wanted to bring out a long-forgotten part of our heritage and he has indeed handled that responsibility well. His books are meticulously presented; his writing sensitive and understanding as he shares the plight of the children who were orphaned, oftentimes by tragedy or pain.
Many of you may realize that Robert Noonan came to our site for a review of his books. He and I later worked to proofread, edit and finalize the books prior to publishing. I was honored to have this little part in bringing these Americana stories to readers. My only wish? That the trilogy had really had one more book--Hillary, so we would know that Hillary had indeed had a wonderful life and had successfully dealt with her own tragic secret. How about it Mr. Noonan? I've added it to my "wish list" at all the online bookstores! Will I get my wish? Hillary is a must-must read for me because I consider the first three books as Must-Reads!
G. A. Bixler
Bridie's Daughter (Book) - 7/2/2008 8:13:02 AM
Robert Noonan's second book in his trilogy has just been released! Bridie's Daughter follows Wildflowers and if you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend it to you. These books are a taste of Americana that you don't want to miss!
The "orphan trains" moved across the country from 1854-1929. Reverend Charles Loring Brace was shocked in 1850 when he learned of and saw 10,000 homeless children prowling the streets of New York City. He founded a Society through which many of these desperate children were sent west to begin new lives.
And so another trip was planned; the orphan train would carry 37 children under the age of 15. They were optimistic that all of the children might find homes this time since other trips had carried as many as 150 orphans. The children came from many different places but they were able to meet and make new friends during the train trip. They would ride two days to their first destination in Illinois.
Two of the older children were immediately attracted to each other; Catherine and Brian easily found a way to meet and shared many hours together during their trip. Monica and Jason were their respective friends and they all speculated about what kind of homes they might find. Brian and Jason had been living on the streets, but Brian shared that he had dreams of becoming an engineer if he ever had a chance to go to school. In each seat on the train, whispers and dreams and fears were shared as children turned to others who could share their feelings.
Bridie McDonald was already waiting at the Newberry, Illinois train station as it rolled in. Her dear friends, Margaret and Tom Holmgren, who were hoping to find a boy to call their son, soon joined her. Bridie wanted a daughter and she would know her when she saw her. Indeed, that is exactly what happened and she moved quickly toward the young girl, Catherine, who was already deep in conversation with a couple.
Deciding it was only fair to let the young girl choose, the couple and then Bridie quickly shared with Catherine why they would like to have her come live with them. But Birdie had inside information--she had noticed the apparent relationship between Catherine and Brian and quickly highlighted that her good friends had asked Brian to come to live with them and that they lived only two streets away. How could Catherine fail to choose Bridie as she stood there with her twinkling eyes?!
The heartwarming stories of these new families will pull readers into each life--those of the children and those of the new parents. However, there in Newberry, one of the orphans, Monica, Catherine's friend, did not find the happiness she sought. Her story is one that also occasionally happened to those riding the trains. She was finally forced to leave the family that had adopted her, but she was smart enough and brave enough to find another life for herself; her story just might be the most gripping tale you'll read!
The orphans' saga leading to new lives with new families is one that you will always remember. I've found the stories very similar to the series "Little House on the Prairie," based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder that were set in the 1870-80s. So if you've enjoyed this family-oriented program centered on the Ingalls children or Wilder's books, you will indeed agree with me that Noonan's Trilogy is a Must-Read!
G. A. Bixler
Wildflowers (Book) - 7/2/2008 8:09:15 AM
Wildflowers by Robert Noonan is a novel I have come to love. It is the first book in a historical trilogy and carries an underlying story about the "orphan trains" that moved across the country from 1854 to 1929. Reverend Charles Loring Brace was shocked in 1850 when he learned of and saw 10,000 homeless children prowling the streets of New York City. He founded a Society through which many of these desperate children were sent west to begin new lives.
In a small mill town there are no laughing children playing and running. Those that are of the right age are already called upon to work to help support their families. Many of them work at Alton Mill, where they stand for long hours at machines that can maim, to create the different garments that are on order at any given time.
Noonan begins his story on Friday, September 16, 1898, as Hillary Cook walked to work at Alton Mill. She is eleven years old. Her mother is widowed and both must work to have food and shelter.
Kate Moran, best friend of her mother and one of the few friendly faces, smiled as Hillary hurried to her workstation. Work began at six a.m. Kate had come to love Hillary as her own and, indeed, had already promised her friend that she would take Hillary as her child if something should happen to her mother.
The mill was open for long hours Monday through Saturday so the only time for play and just being children was very short and much valued. Hillary and her girlfriends would roam the countryside, searching for flowers, seeking places to play pretend, to be just a little bit silly or to try some new brave adventure...and that is how they came to call themselves the Wildflowers. For those few precious hours, they were able to run wild and feel the joy and freedom of being just what they were--children.
Often, they would run and watch and wave at the children going by on an orphan train. They prayed they would never have to be loaded and shipped away like they had seen happen to one of the little girls at the Mill.
But just as in the fairy tales of our youth, here too lived a wolf, who watched all of the flowers, the children he saw every day but who played in the woods so rarely. He was the owner of Alton Mill. Whenever he chose, he picked a young girl from behind the large machines and had them sent to his office. They were there for whatever he pleased, and he took the most precious thing they owned. Even now, though she was only eleven, he watched and waited for the young, pretty Hillary.
And then in the midst of their daily lives, a stranger came to town. But he wasn't a stranger to Kate Moran's fiancé, John, who had secretly been hiding because he had once been falsely accused of killing a man. The stranger was the dead man's brother! John was forced to once again run since there was no hope of proving his innocence. But John was now financially able to relocate west and find the place where he and Kate would later settle. So they planned and looked forward to that time.
And then Hillary's secret fear came true. Her mother became gravely ill. Hillary stayed by her side day and night but she was getting no better. And that was the time that Frank Dragus, her boss, moved to take his advantage. In exchange for financial support for food, lodging and doctors, he bargained for what he wanted from Hillary.
Noonan's has placed us back into the late 1890's with a tale that is well written, tastefully and respectfully done, and historically significant. When I received the manuscript for review, I was told by the author, "Follow the Children." Indeed, you not only will follow them, but you will become involved and concerned about their lives. Robert Noonan, as a first-time author, has presented us with a gift. We may not enjoy reading about some of the challenges they faced, but it is important that we learn of them. We should also be reminded that there are always good people who move in to assist and love those in need. This must-read first book is a keeper for your historical fiction library!
G. A. Bixler
Children's Orphan Train Journal (Article) - 3/20/2009 5:02:47 AM
Hey Bob, How about a sample chapter?!
Children's Orphan Train Journal (Article) - 11/23/2008 8:15:36 PM
Orphan Train 2008,i.e.Over 2000 + CHILDREN USA Disappear Each Day,Enslaved,Prostituted, Most Are Raped,Killed,Choked, Sodomized To Death By Millions Child Molesters...Their Body Parts Sold $$ To Medical,Doctors,Rest Bodies Never Found---US.Gov Politicians Could Care Less That Much Less They Pay $$ Out In Social Security Health Benefits...
Obviously You Don't Know Or Aware...
Credit Illuminating Write..
Children's Orphan Train Journal (Article) - 11/23/2008 10:16:34 AM
National Best Books 2008 Awards (Article) - 10/29/2008 6:04:26 AM
Congrats my friend!
National Best Books 2008 Awards (Article) - 10/22/2008 2:51:20 PM
Orphan Train Trilogy has three Finalists in International Competition. (Article) - 9/4/2008 4:02:28 PM
Hey! Celebrate! Celebrate! Any champagne???
Orphan Train Trilogy (Article) - 8/13/2008 12:44:27 PM
This is great news! Your books open windows to the past. I know they'll do well. --Charlie
Orphan Train: Letter-3 (Article) - 8/7/2008 3:44:04 PM
This one breaks my heart. My sister adopted 7 children from Haiti-- that wasn't the original plan. But when a little black-eyed orphan looks up into your eyes and says, "Please, Ma'm. I'll do all your ironing if you just take me in... ...I'll sweep all your floors..." well, your heart just melts, and you bring them in under your wing.
It also reminds me a bit of Anne --before Green Gables. Heart-rending. --Charlie
Orphan Train: Letter-4 (Article) - 7/25/2008 10:27:24 AM
So...I assume that this young man was adopted for providing labor. I just hope that there was some love flowing as well...
Orphan Train: Letter-3 (Article) - 7/17/2008 2:08:55 PM
This is such a sad letter! This certainly shows that not all of this was a good thing, which even today is true. However, when they took the children so far away from what they knew, there was no way to get "back home." Makes me wonder if that is what the good Reverend wanted...or that he didn't think about the possible negative ramifications. I hope there was some followup to help this one!
Orphan Train: Letter-2 (Article) - 7/15/2008 4:28:01 AM
I think these two case studies are illustrative of the good and bad of the issue of "adoption."
In one case, Mary leaves an abusive home and finds a much happier one. In the second one, she leaves the streets only to be abused by her adoptive father.
I think your Bridie's Daughter was a wonderful story about children finding happy adoptive parents. But even then one of the children on that ride was abused by her new father...
I believe your books have captured these historical events in a wonderful fashion!
Orphan Train: Letter-1 (Article) - 7/2/2008 2:21:26 PM
This letter is bittersweet...Don't you just wish you could write back to her and tell her all about how Jesus loves her already! It is hard to imagine that this happened over 100 years ago! I think adding sample letters make me realize the value of your Trilogy even more!
I look forward to next week's letter!
Orphan Train Trilogy (Article) - 7/2/2008 8:03:58 AM
Hmmmm...I think the Orphan Train Trilogy is Great!
I look forward to reading the letters...I've already marked you as being "tracked" so I hope that means I'll be notified when you post them...if not...you'd better let me know!
Best regards my friend...
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 11/25/2012 1:34:05 PM
Which way shall I take the course to my reader’s hearts,
What scale and tools do I collect with,
What voyeur’s wrap I claim in readiness.
Are the ages of my father come to bear,
Or will be for next generation’s benefit:
And for sure hope luck to smile a lot,
Unless I weaken in devotion,
That I harbor this pretext,
Where course is subject to a wanton age.
Gather, flock with us; examine all to beyond:
Valiant person have surpassed our time.
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 5/15/2009 4:43:29 AM
Very nicely penned Robert! "I share with all my heartfelt words, so those gone by can still be heard"...beautiful! Love the lyrical flow of this piece. You should write more poetry...I'll read it!
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 4/5/2009 9:46:35 AM
Did I ever tell you I really liked this! I'm so glad you wrote it!
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 9/13/2008 6:06:09 PM
Great writing dear man...Hugss
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 9/9/2008 6:25:14 PM
That is a very good reason to write history-- I love how real you make it, and it's obvious the hours you spend researching your time/place/events and even characters, though I realize they're mostly fiction, to be that real, they must be based on actual people. You bring the past alive again, so their ghosts can finally be put to rest. I appreciate that very much about your writing. And your books are on my wish-list for Christmas-- and I've a lot of clout this year, as I've been working extra-extra hard...
But wouldn't it be an interesting journey back in time to rearrange a few minor events so calamaties don't take place? It's mind-boggling how many things we could mess up doing just a bit of that, isn't it... still, I love movies that have that topic-- "Frequency" is one of my favorites. and of course, "Back to the Future". And other events perhaps more real, like The Philedelphia experiment... clouted with mystery and green vapors... Mysteries and possibilities.
But not so, your writing-- breaking the mystery and telling it like it was for many. You're a fine-fine writer. And don't mind WABBA-- that's got to be an acronym for something... "wanna be a better author?" I don't know. --Charlie
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 9/9/2008 3:51:03 PM
Well stated--my sentiments exactly. A lot of work went into this poem to capture this rhythm and the rhyme pattern. I enjoyed it. If only I had the patience to write poems with the craft that went into this one.
Why I Write History (Poetry) - 9/9/2008 2:27:19 AM