Four unique voices; two parallel love stories; one sweeping novel rich in the history of nineteenth-century America. This remarkable debut draws from the great themes of literature—famine, war, love, and family—as it introduces four unforgettable characters. Ethan McOwen is an Irish immigrant whose endurance is tested in Brooklyn and the Five Points at the height of its urban destitution; he is among the first to join the famed Irish Brigade and becomes a celebrated war photographer. Marcella, a society girl from Spain, defies her father to become a passionate abolitionist. Mary and Micah are slaves of varying circumstances, who form an instant connection and embark on a tumultuous path to freedom.
All four lives unfold in two beautiful love stories, which eventually collide. Written in gorgeous language that subtly captures the diverse backgrounds of the characters, and interspersed with letters, journals, and dreams, this unforgettable story, rendered in cinematic detail, is about having faith in life’s great meaning amidst its various tangles.
About the Author
PETER TROY is a former journalist and high school history teacher. He lives in New York State, where he is at work on his next novel.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385534485
- ISBN-13: 978-0385534482
The story begins in Ireland with Ethan McOwen and his family fleeing the Potato Famine and arriving in New York. Ethan’s family has found some success in New York in the years leading up to the Civil War and Ethan becomes a photographer during this period by assisting the famous Matthew Brady while being a member of the Irish Brigade. He meets a Spanish society girl named Marcella Arroyo who has become a nurse and abolitionist when he is injured during battle. Of course, they fall in love and are soon married.
In a parallel story, slaves Micah and Mary have completely different experiences as slaves. Mary is educated and given privileges like her own room, while Micah sleep in hay. When Micah is sold and the two meet, they fall in love and decide to escape on Christmas Eve although Mary doesn’t the attempt. When Micah finally settles in Cooperstown and becomes a handy man to Ethan, the stories truly intersect. Micah reunites with Mary and I really want to say they live happily ever after, but the story ends here.
I really enjoyed this one and the parallel stories that finally connect all the characters at the end of the story. The point of view each character offers is something unique and brings together romance, adventure, overcoming overwhelming odds in the face of adversarial conditions. The story puts a human face on the issue of slavery and exactly what it means to be an American. That you can be what you what to be in this country.
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