From WILLA Award winning author Kim Taylor Blakemore…“…inspiring and poignant historical fiction novel that will engage readers that are looking for an insightful, yet entertaining read. ” 5/5 stars, Luxury Reader“lends credence to the millions of historical and contemporary girls who dare to dream in the face of extraordinary challenges.” – Starred Review, Kirkus“Gang violence, raucous carousing, sex, accidental pregnancy, and crime–not what most will expect from Victorian-era historical fiction. But that’s exactly what they’ll find in this tightly plotted novel…” – BooklistNEW YORK, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and street urchins, Do-Gooders and charity houses, impossible goals and impossible odds. The Bowery is a place where you own nothing but your dreams. And dreams are the only things that come cheap for pickpocket Mollie Flynn and prostitute Annabelle Lee.Pleasure is fleeting – and often stolen. Nights at Lefty Malone’s saloon, sneaking into the Thalia Theatre. Then it’s back to their airless, windowless tenement room and the ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their heads and bread in their stomachs.The Brooklyn Bridge is nearing completion, and things are changing in New York City. The two women fantasize of starting a new life across the East River. Nothing but a flight of fancy, perhaps, until wealthy Do-Gooder Emmeline DuPre, who has opened the Cherry Street Settlement House, steps into their lives with her books, typewriters, and promises of a way to earn a respectable living. Despite Mollie and Annabelle’s fascination with the woman and what she offers, is Emmeline helping or meddling?Is it really possible to be anything other than a Bowery Girl? Mollie and Annabelle will have to decide exactly who they are, and what sort of women they want to be.
Confession time: before reading this, I'd never heard of "The Bowery" before. It's a gritty place, filled with gamblers, thieves, immigrants, and people trying desperately to survive. Yet at the same time, it's a place of dreams, where people often have nothing but their dreams. The same is true for Mollie Flynn, a pickpocket, and her friend and roommate, Annabelle Lee, who is a prostitute. Although life isn't always gloomy, they do get some happiness, and what happiness they get, they take advantage of in the fullest.
But then, Emmeline, a wealthy woman of some standing, offers them a way to get their dream and turn it into reality. The book is gritty, at times the events are cruel, but it's the strength of the main characters that carries the narrative and makes it stand out from other books.