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Ceely, Jonatha

CEELY, Jonatha

PERSONAL:

Married; husband is a composer.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brookline, MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Delacorte Press, Random House, Inc., 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER:

Writer. Has worked as a teacher and administrator.

WRITINGS:

(With others) Writing a Research Paper, 5th edition, Wayside Publishing (Sandwich, MA), 1992.

Mina: A Novel, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

A novel.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jonatha Ceely's debut novel, Mina, is set in 1848 and is the story of a fifteen-year-old girl who has lost her parents and sister to starvation during the Irish potato famine. She and her brother, Daniel, walk from their village to Dublin, where they buy passage on a ship to America. When the ship catches fire and sinks, the two become separated. Mina is rescued, but Daniel is put aboard a different ship, which is heading for New York. Mina eventually finds work on an English estate, having cut her flaming red hair and passing herself off as a boy named Paddy in order to find a job. Working in the kitchen, she becomes close to the mysterious chef, Mr. Serle, who, unknown to her, is a Jew who as a young man fled Rome to escape the poverty and repression of the ghetto.

The two friends eventually share their secrets and plan for the day when they can go to America together—he to open a restaurant, and Mina to find Daniel. Ceely writes of the meals they plan and cook together. A Publishers Weekly contributor said that "Ceely's descriptions of a Victorian kitchen are deliciously vivid" and that readers of Victorian fiction "will appreciate Ceely's light touch and historical consistency." Boston Globe reviewer Amanda Heller wrote that "even the melodramatic plot complications are based in historical fact and are true to the spirit of the Victorian novel."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of Mina: A Novel, p. 1132.

Boston Globe, April 25, 2004, Amanda Heller, review of Mina, section D, p. 7.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of Mina, p. 96.

Publishers Weekly, January 26, 2004, review of Mina, p. 227.

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