The Strongman and the Mermaid

The Strongman and the Mermaid

by Kathleen Shoop

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2019 Donora, Pennsylvania
Ninety-one-year-old Patryk Rusek hides in his attic, hoping the searchers think he's escaped. When Lucy finally bursts in, she discovers her beloved grandfather clutching a fat, hand-illustrated, antique book. In it is the story of Donora, the town that shaped America, its people and Patryk himself. Before long, Lucy and her son Owen lose track of their goal to get Grandpa Patryk somewhere "safe" as they're drawn into the book, back in time, into stories that read like real-life fairytales born of purpose, hard-work, and chance.

1910 Donora, Pennsylvania
In the early dawn of Donora, Pennsylvania, the mills make and shape the steel that builds America. Mary Lancos lives in a home on the hill overlooking town and its mighty Monongahela River. That tiny house bursts with her siblings and boarders. Wind whipping through the walls and windows makes Mary determined to marry well and create a better life.

Shy Pole, Lukasz Musial, arrives in Donora seeking the clear blue skies, green lawns, and better life he'd seen pictured on a postcard. Settled in Donora's Polish community, Lukasz secures a coveted job in the wire mill. Life is set on course to achieve the American Dream. All he needs is a wife who believes in him, in his mighty, quiet, strength.

After a series of casual, friendly meetings, fate brings Mary and Lukasz to the river under a snowy, pink moonlit sky and everything changes. Their attraction is sudden and consuming, turning the pair onto an unexpected path. With mounting disapproval from Mary's parents she and Lukasz must decide if love is enough to risk losing everything else that matters.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940161391631
Publisher: IndiePub
Publication date: 03/06/2019
Series: The Donora Story Collection , #2
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 75,983
File size: 667 KB

About the Author

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine.

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The Strongman and the Mermaid 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
ReadersFavorite4 8 months ago
Reviewed by Samantha Gregory for Readers' Favorite The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a story in two parts. It begins with the story of a man called Patryk, a ninety-one-year-old man who has locked himself away in his attic to avoid his granddaughter and her son from taking him away from his home. He holds a book which he refuses to hand over. The story then goes to 1910 and tells the story of Donora, a town in Pennsylvania, and a couple called Mary and Lukasz who fall in love in impossible surroundings. With everyone against them, they have to find a way to be together. Kathleen Shoop has created an interesting and engaging story in The Strongman and the Mermaid. The characters are well developed and I enjoyed reading about them. I liked the characters and I thought that the dialogue was good and believable. It kept me turning the pages. I especially liked Patryk's character. He is old, struggling a bit and he has come to rely on this book. He loves the stories and they give him comfort. The Strongman and the Mermaid is kind of a historical romance and I think it would do very well with people who enjoy that particular genre and romance readers who are perhaps looking for something a little different. Most romance stories are contemporary nowadays, so it was a nice change of pace to read something from a different era and to see how the people were in those days. I think it will do well on the market. I would recommend this book to fans of historical and romance fiction.
ReadersFavorite3 8 months ago
Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite The Strong Man and the Mermaid is the second book in the Donora Collection by Kathleen Shoop, a fairytale with strong hints of history. Patryk Rusek is a ninety-one-year-old man who is hiding in the attic with the hope that his searchers will think he has escaped. But then Lucy, his granddaughter, comes in and finds Patryk clutching a fat, hand-illustrated book that tells the story of Donora and how it shaped America. Now, Lucy and her son are absorbed in the book and transported to Donora in 1910. Follow them in this adventure that uncovers exciting stories of hard work, of romance, and a tale of the ultimate sacrifice for love. I was hooked from the very start of the story. The author introduces the protagonist immediately and draws the reader’s attention to the internal conflict experienced by the protagonist: “It happened like this for Patryk Rusek. They came for him, over and over, bossing him, coercing, bribing, tricking him, pretending it was for his own good. But this time, Patryk prepared for the invasion.” My curiosity was immediately aroused and I wanted to know who the people were that came for Patryk and what they really wanted from him. The Strong Man and the Mermaid is skillfully plotted and written in beautiful prose. The reader is pulled into a fairytale-like world with strong and memorable characters. The love adventure between Mary and Lukasz is one of the key elements that add to the entertaining potential of this narrative. Kathleen Shoop keeps it real and human, succeeding in creating an emotional connection between the reader and the characters.
ReadersFavorite2 8 months ago
Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite Woven around the parents of Stan Musial, the renowned baseball star, The Strongman and the Mermaid is historical fiction. Kathleen Shoop has bejeweled this book with her magnificent imagination and impeccable writing. Lukasz Musial and Miss Mary, unbeknownst to each other, share a mutual bond of faith and unwavering drive to surpass their current lifestyle. Mary is an American, and Lukasz dreams of making a life for himself in America. Lukasz lives a troubled and poor life in a Polish village. Since the day he heard about the kind of lifestyle America can provide, he decided to win the ticket that a sponsor was offering to one person in that village. On the other hand, Mary works day and night under the strict supervision and nonstop badgering of her mom. She works in a mine, in Mrs. Dunn's household as a maid, and each night rows the boat to get her father back from his work. Although her work and poverty should have broken her spirit, she has a firm belief that she will not continue to live in these poor conditions forever. In fact, she has fabricated a plan which involves a rich boy, Samuel, proposing to marry her one day. Even though she has discovered that Samuel is a bad dancer and even worse kisser, she is not going to let these shortcomings get in the way of her dreams. As the story is set in 1910, many customs were shocking to me. Marrying kids and employing them at the age of 13 was the most shocking to me. The living conditions of Mary, her siblings, and her parents were so horrendous that I, as a reader, prayed for Mary to get the life that she so desired. Lukasz was disappointed to see the difference between the America that he had heard about and the America that he was looking at now. Nevertheless, his drive and passion to make a home for himself were bigger than any other desires. A nobleman with no land or money, his character is so refined that he does not sulk about anything; instead, he pushes himself and continues dreaming. He wants romance, a wife, and a child, and although he slips a couple of times by temptation, his priority is always to be a worthy man. His chivalry and drive won my heart. The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is not an ordinary romance. It is a romance that goes beyond looks and settles deep into the souls of readers. Every so often, a love story comes that your heart can't let go. One of those love stories, for me, has been Mr. Darcy and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. Now Mary and Lukasz in The Strongman and the Mermaid will stay with me for a long time to come. I would recommend this book to readers who appreciate a long and beautiful tale of romance and struggle.
ReadersFavorite1 8 months ago
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite The Strongman And The Mermaid is a work of epic historical fiction penned by author Kathleen Shoop, and forms the second book in The Donora Story Collection. In the present-day town of Donora, Pennsylvania, Lucy is shocked to find her grandfather in hiding, clutching an ancient book about the town itself. When she begins to read, she discovers the Donora of 1910, and the tale of Polish immigrant Lukasz Musial who arrives in town with the hope of taking his own slice of the American dream. He meets a young woman, Mary, with dreams of her own, and what follows is a heart-warming and heart-breaking tale of the hardships of life and the development of the town that shaped America. Author Kathleen Shoop writes with great emotional clarity, allowing her characters to pour out their fears, fantasies, hopes and wishes without invading the tale too much as a writer. In other places, the clearly historically researched splendor of Donora takes over, inviting us to relive the first half of the twentieth century through the eyes of the people who shaped this town into what it later became. Mary and Lukasz’s story was both typical and classic, full of trials and tribulations, interesting clashes of culture and tumultuous romance that would warm even the most cynical of hearts. All the while, the revelations of the modern day tale loom, and the conclusion to those more than satisfies readers for this volume. Overall, The Strongman And The Mermaid is an emotive journey through visual history.
ReadersFavorite 8 months ago
Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a gorgeous story, a gripping romance with a strong setting. Ninety-one-year-old Patryk Rusek is a hunted man. He knows they are coming for him, so he does the one thing logical to him: hide in the attic in the hope that his searchers will think he has escaped. But then his granddaughter, Lucy, comes into the attic and finds Patryk with a hand-illustrated old book. The book contains the story of Donora and how it shaped America. Lucy and her son, Owen, are irresistibly pulled into a world back in 1910, following an extraordinary story of love, of daring, and the destiny of two souls irreversibly drawn towards each other. The plot structure is unusual and it has beautiful twists. I love stories with great characters and a well-developed conflict and I always want to see characters evolve through the conflict. It is something that this author does impeccably well. The conflict is indirectly introduced right away. The old man in hiding and the old book are elements that immediately aroused my curiosity, and the author transitions with skill, pulling the reader into the world of Donora and following the romance between Mary and Lukasz. Mary and Lukasz are characters that I enjoyed. The attraction between them grows naturally, but the conflict builds around family values and acceptance. What happens when the family of the one we love refuses to give their blessing to us? The narrative is emotionally rich, a tale that takes place in a beautiful setting. The writing is cinematic, punctuated by exciting dialogues. The Strongman and the Mermaid will keep you awake through the night. Kathleen Shoop has what it takes to keep readers engaged.
beckvalleybooks 9 months ago
The Strongman and The Mermaid goes way beyond fiction, Kathleen Shoop's words paint a picture of life that comes alive in the readers mind, all senses are experienced and emotions are felt. This is an historical fiction lovers dream! An absolutely outstanding read full of myths, traditions, festivities, historical facts and hardships experienced by a town mixed with different nationalities living and working in 1910 Donora, where existence was created by the mines and steel mills. I loved how the story begins in 2019, Donora, as Lucy, and her young son Owen try to re-home grandpa Patryk they find a treasured book that was created by his wife and sister. As as they sit down to listen to grandpa, the story of Donora many years ago in 1910, Mary and Lukasz takes us vividly back in time. Two sad, lonely souls, Lucasz and Mary, in other parts of the world, dream of what life could be, genuine soul mates waiting for their paths to gradually cross. My heart broke many times following young Czech Mary, her daunting days were filled with sheer hard work, worry and stress of living in poverty with her family. She had moments of joy and feelings of being loved but also had disappointment after disappointment. All her dreams and hopes belonged to the future when her life really would start, she would marry well to a man she loved and have the house she had dreamed about for so long. Then we have Lukasz, a Polish boy who longed for more in his life. He had the opportunity of a ticket to live the American dream in Donora, he would have a job, live in a lovely home with a lovely wife, all fed by an exaggerated truth of life in Donora, a life full of hardship. As you read their moving story you will see the darkened skies of Donora, hear the noise from the mills that filled the town with so much thick smoky air and sense and feel how it would stick to your skin and lungs as every breath was taken by the those who lived there. Yet will also feel the sense of pride by the people who lived there to have a self built home and employment, regardless of the conditions. You will enjoy reading about the myths and festivities that took place, my favorite being Midsummers eve and the throwing of the crowns into the river for a potential suitor to be found. Kathleen Shoop's characters are always so interesting, their back stories always so intriguing, you will find yourself no longer in reality but transported back to a time gone by in any of her books. In this one, you will laugh, you will feel the sense of warmth and joy from kindness, you will feel the sense of crushing from harshness, you will feel yourself rooting for the characters that have taken a hold of you from this beautiful, treasured tale. Now my joint favorite read, alongside The Last Letter, from one of my favorite authors.
BambiZQ 9 months ago
From the onset of this book, Kathleen Shoop sets the stage for a magical tale that weaves you in and out of each character’s story. I am a huge historical fiction fan and this book has everything I crave. Rich with history and honest characters, The Strong Man and the Mermaid: (The Donora Story Collection Book 2), is a delight and I highly recommend it. The quickness in which the reader is enveloped and invested in each character’s story was surprising. Within just the first few chapters I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. With so many everyday normal twists and turns the main characters in each chapter draws you into their lives and in some way they each are so relatable. You want the main character, Luckasz and Mary to reach their dreams and are so much rooting for them. With each disappointment and win you are completely there with them. Shoop pleasantly weaves through a bit of historic background as well as does a great job describing the scenery and their dwellings which I always hope a book will do. I find those small details really help get the reader to feel a deeper sense of what is actually going on during that time period and creates more of a connection with each character. Shoop writes in such a way that you feel their emotions. Very beautifully written with so much heart and life. I am truly a fan and will definitely be reading her other books and cannot wait to see what she writes in the future.
JulieGB 10 months ago
Lucasz dreamt of the American way of living. He wanted a house, a wife and children, but he had no chance of achieving that dream in his own homeland. With hard work and a bit of luck, eventually Lucasz wins passage to America, the land of opportunity. When he arrives in Donora, Pennsylvania, it is not as he expected. But that’s not going to stop him from fulfilling his dream. Mary also dreams of a beautiful home of her own, with a loving husband and children. The only difference between her and Lucasz is that Donora is all she has ever known. Being from a family that is so poor that they depend on her earnings, she has little opportunity of living the life she wants, especially since her parents are pushing her into an arranged marriage. By chance, Mary and Lucasz’ paths cross several times but only as friends. In true Kathleen Shoop style, we are told the story of Mary and Lucasz through the memories of their descendant, Patryk. I love the way Shoop can draw you into her stories with no effort at all. You feel the characters pains, tribulations and joys, all the while living their lives as if they are your own. Her books are always extra-long, but oh so satisfying and true adventures.
LynchburgMama 10 months ago
By day, I work for a steel fabrication shop. The steel mills history instantly pulled me in! I'm a total sap when it comes to romance -- especially one that goes against the grain, like in this case, Mary's parents. I felt completely wrapped up in this book within a few chapters, soaking up the visual clues within the characters and Donora, that transported me back to when people were still finding themselves in a new country. I can completely understand why the grandchildren were quickly became absorbed into the book. We get to see a time when people were looking for the greener grass on the other side and how they were still facing the expectations of the "old world" way of thinking. I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated by the size of this book, as I typically enjoy a shorter, quick read; however, don't let it scare you. It doesn't take long to get wrapped up and transported to a time that captivates all of your senses!I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.
BookMomto6 10 months ago
Let's start by saying I never read book one in this series and will be going back to do so. I was so taken by the characters and the story lines in book two I want to read the beginning. I am also waiting with baited breath for the next installment. That all being said, you can read this book as a standalone and not read any of the others in the series. The steel mills of Pennsylvania have long held a place in the history of the US and in my heart. I remember cities like Pittsburgh when the mills were active and how dirty they were. Nowadays, Pittsburgh - just in case you want to visit - has turned itself around and is a beautiful destination. While I have no knowledge of a town called Donora in Pennsylvania, I lived on the shores of the Monongahela River for three years. When I read about it, I feel like I know what the author is writing about even though I may not have been at that particular location. Add to my love of the Mon and of historical fiction the love story in this book and I couldn't put The Strongman and the Mermaid down. I read through it in no time at all, placing different customs and happenings to what I know of history of the area. I love that Mary had enough strength, maybe she should be the strongman, to go against what her parents wanted her to do in a time when women had little say in their lives. I also love the Catholic traditions that were present in the community and the book. You should pick up a copy of Kathleen Shoop's The Strongman and the Mermaid and give it a read. I guarantee you'll enjoy it. I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.
BookwormNM 10 months ago
The Strongman and the Mermaid is such a good read. I felt transported back in time. I really enjoyed the mix of historical fiction and romance and how the author intertwined the main characters to produce a story worth reading and one that will leave you believing in fate. This book is one to pass on for sure and recommend to all your girlfriends. This book was received through a book tour and I have volunteered to share my review. All opinions are my own.