Author: Kathleen Tessaro
Published: April 2016; Harper
Format: ARC Paperback; 400 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours
Maeve Fanning is a first generation Irish immigrant, born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and as headstrong as her red hair suggests, she’s determined to better herself despite the overwhelming hardships of the Great Depression.
However, Maeve also has a dangerous fondness for strange men and bootleg gin—a rebellious appetite that soon finds her spiraling downward, leading a double life. When the strain proves too much, Maeve becomes an unwilling patient in a psychiatric hospital, where she strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic young woman, who, like Maeve, is unable or unwilling to control her un-lady-like desire for freedom.
Once out, Maeve faces starting over again. Armed with a bottle of bleach and a few white lies, she lands a job at an eccentric antiques shop catering to Boston’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. Run by an elusive English archeologist, the shop is a haven of the obscure and incredible, providing rare artifacts as well as unique access to the world of America’s social elite. While delivering a purchase to the wealthy Van der Laar family, Maeve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar—only to discover she’s the young woman from the hospital.
Reunited with the charming but increasingly unstable Diana and pursued by her attractive brother James, Mae becomes more and more entwined with the Van der Laar family—a connection that pulls her into a world of moral ambiguity and deceit, and ultimately betrayal. Bewitched by their wealth and desperate to leave her past behind, Maeve is forced to unearth her true values and discover how far she’ll to go to reinvent herself.
My thoughts: I first heard of Kathleen Tessaro when I read her book, The Perfume Collector, a few years ago. I really enjoyed that book, so when I saw she had a new book coming out, I couldn't wait to read it...another historical fiction book, this time set in Boston seemed like just the book I would enjoy.
I really liked Maeve/May...she's a character that is so richly drawn, you can't help but fall in love with her. You'll empathize with her, get frustrated with her, find her exasperating and yet love her moxie all in the same breath. And then there's Diana...she got on my nerves more than once, yet there's something about her that I just can't put my finger on...these are both memorable characters, that's for sure!
Maeve is unlike the girls her age. She wants a life of her own and quickly realizes that money doesn't necessarily equate to happiness. While she enjoys her friendship with Diana she also realizes it comes at a great cost. Maeve struggled with who she was/who she wanted to be throughout the book. I loved how her mom was constantly there to keep on top of her, wanting to see her do better than she did. This was one area I would have loved to see developed more, as there were some hints that all was not as true as it was led to be believed.
This was a good book with great characters, and set in an interesting time period. This is now the second book I've read by Kathleen Tessaro and I can't wait to pick up her other books.
About the author: Kathleen Tessaro is the author of Elegance, Innocence, The Flirt, and The Debutante. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and son.
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