This book follows the lives of two people of Irish descent. Paul arrives in Brooklyn in 1895 aged 19. He meets and is captivated by Maeve whose parents arrived two decades earlier but met tragic ends. She develops a fondness for the innocent Irishman but is forced to deceive him. On discovering the deception he leaves Brooklyn, eventually joining the gold rush to the Klondike and, later, Alaska. Throughout the years thoughts of Maeve are never far away.
She escapes the clutches of the man who has controlled her since her parents’ deaths and travels to Chicago where she gives up a child for adoption before becoming involved with the family of an artist. Before her parents died she had enjoyed painting and now, encouraged by the artist, studies and becomes a successful painter. The traumatic separation from her child influences her paintings and she harbours an unfulfilled need to find her daughter.
On a painting assignment in Dawson City, she discovers that Paul was there years earlier and considers trying to find him. At the last minute, she decides that revisiting the past would be unwise, bringing back unpleasant memories of the terrible thing that happened to her after Paul disappeared.
Years later she is commissioned to paint the portrait of a nurse newly returned from the battlefields of France and Germany. Simultaneously Paul is persuaded by a friend that he has misunderstood Maeve’s actions and should seek her out in Chicago. The book reaches its climax as all three meet against the backdrop of the Red Riots of July/August 1919 and the horrific circumstances of the daughter’s conception are finally revealed.
Readers with an interest in history, genealogy and/or the Irish Diaspora will enjoy reading this short (60,000 words) debut novel.
Paul Horan, an ambitious, honest and determined Irish man, travels to America looking to make his fortune.
He meets Maeve, a beautiful and enchanting woman in Brooklyn, but their happiness is short-lived.
“The rain was like a thousand sharp pointed needles battering her cheeks and mingling with her tears. It ran from her hair over her collar bone and inside the high collar of her dress. It squelched within her shoes as she blundered through the storm battered streets and back alleys. None of it mattered. Nothing mattered any more…”
Two very different and fascinating people, but we wonder if they will ever meet again after circumstances drive them apart. Maeve is forced to deceive Paul, causing their relationship to explode and they part company. Life for the two of them continues in very different ways, making the likelihood of them ever meeting again very remote. Especially since Maeve has a secret, one which must surely prevent any happiness for either of them.
At this point, I was very impressed by the attention to detail in this book. The author leads you into both threads of the story, leaving no stone unturned as you watch both the stories unfold. I particularly liked the descriptive way the author lets you enter the world of an artist, I could almost smell the paint!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this romantic and historical drama; it is brilliantly written and presented. I can definitely recommend this book to readers of believable dramatic and romantic fiction…