BOOK REVIEW: Driven by a shameful past and a perilous future, Maureen O'Reilly and her sister flee Ireland in search of safety, liberty, and opportunity. But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died, and his family--refusing to own his dept--casts her out. Impoverished and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to find employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover the elegant facade hides a dangerous secret.
Despite her family' disapproval, Olivia Wakefield vows to honor her father's promise but can't find Maureen, the woman her brother-in-law so rudely turned away. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia dares hope will become more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he's hiding.
As women begin disappearing from the department store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But will they be too late? And in the midst of a world gone mad, can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?
MY REVIEW: I am becoming a fan of Cathy Gohlke's books. I have previously read her Promise Me This and Secrets She Kept. She seems to have a deeper plot than some other authors, and something else I can't put my finger on.
This book is set in the 1910's, about the immigration of Maureen and her sister from Ireland. Determined to make it on her own after her father's friend is found to have passed away, Maureen takes a position in a department store, narrowly surviving a tragic mistake. Forced to live in less-than-desirable circumstances, Maureen's sister starts to pull away and blame Maureen for their troubles in Ireland. Meanwhile Maureen stubbornly refuses help from those who would be friends.
I was reminded as I read this book of the difficulties facing immigrants, especially women on their own. The city is unforgiving and treacherous to those who don't know it, and filled with preditors.
Two things I was impressed with in the book are, first, the effort a group of first-class women put into helping those who needed it. They called themselves a Band of Sisters. And second, Maureen's efforts in helping both her friends and those in the same dire circumstance. She could have turned a blind eye and remained in ignorant "safety", but she chose to help those who didn't have anyone else to care about them. It truly is an inspiration.