Book Review: The Ballroom Café – 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. (synopsis taken from




The Ballroom Café is a truly heartfelt tale about sisters Ella and Roberta, two elderly women who had to deal with several twists of fate and about Debbie, who in search of her birth mother unravels all sorts of hidden scandals. 

I started reading this book in the bath tub and looked like a prune when I finally emerged from the water. I only wanted to read the first few chapters, but the storyline was so captivating that I completely forgot about time.  

I knew that something awful must have happened to the sisters in order to make them so estranged. Living under the same roof, not speaking a word to another, but instead only exchanging curd notes must be so depressing and hopeless. What made these sisters “hate” each other? The plot unravels beautifully and keeps on unveiling secrets and tragedies that I could never have imagined possible.

Debbie’s story probably affected me the most. I shed a few tears when flashbacks moved the reader back to her childhood. I really admired her character. Her strength and willpower are phenomenal. Stories like this really make me appreciate life even more.

The Ballroom Café is a wonderfully written book that I cannot praise highly enough!

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book from Black and White Publishing in exchange for my honest review.


1 Comment

  1. June 4, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    I was disappointed with this book – as other reviewers have said, it had all the ingredients for a good novel, but it just didn’t work for me. The pace was terribly slow and the characters were a bit too one-dimensional. It’s a pity because I think that with the right editor, this story could have been a real page-turner.

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