The Island of Doves

By Kelly O'Connor McNees
(Berkley Trade, Paperback, 9780425264584, 384pp.)

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

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Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of two women in early nineteenth century America—one typical of her time, one extraordinary for it—who transform each other’s lives.

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffalo’s finest mansions, but her husband has made it a monstrous prison. When a mysterious woman offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamboat for Mackinac Island. But after being a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, it is only as she flees that she realizes how unprepared she is for freedom.

An exceptional woman of early America, Magdelaine Fonteneau has overcome convention to live a bold and adventurous life, achieving great wealth and power as a fur trader. But Magdelaine has also seen great tragedy and lost all that was dear to her, and she is no longer sure her hardened heart is capable of love.

Now, Magdelaine seeks redemption by offering safe harbor to Susannah. But as their friendship grows into something miraculous, it changes each woman in unexpected ways. Each needs to learn to love again, and only together can they realize a future bright with the promise of new life…

About the Author

Kelly O'Connor McNees is an editor and the critically acclaimed author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and In Need of a Good Wife. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter. 

Conversation Starters from


  1. How does the imagery of fauna in the book echo the themes of the story? There is an appearance of a rabid dog, a caged bird, and a dead rabbit (as well as the carved stone rabbit on Josette’s headstone). Consider the moments that animals enter the story—how does McNees use the animals to reinforce the dynamic of the human characters?

Praise For The Island of Doves

 Praise for the novels of Kelly O’Connor McNees

“Unforgettable.”—Kristina Riggle, author of Keepsake
“Charming.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Simply gorgeous.”—Susan Gregg Gilmore, author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

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