Ann Moore, Author . NAL Accent $13.95 (378p) ISBN 978-0-451-20707-4

Yes, Gracelin O'Malley is another plucky Irish girl headed to America for a better life, but this gripping second volume of her story (the sequel to Gracelin O'Malley) is densely packed with unwhitewashed historical facts unusual in the romance genre. Having lost her husband and shot a British policeman, Grace flees Ireland in 1849 at age 20. She leaves a newborn son with her father in County Cork and takes her daughter to Liverpool, where she narrowly avoids the slums that destroy the lives of many immigrants. She then makes the difficult transatlantic voyage with her daughter, where dozens of adults and children die in filthy steerage. The New York she reaches is ugly, crowded, unsanitary and crime ridden. Moore creates a colorful, if familiar, tableau of German butchers, Italian laborers, runaway slaves, Jewish peddlers and, at the bottom of the heap, the Irish dockworkers, bootblacks and others that Grace meets at her job in a Manhattan saloon. As she struggles to make a home for herself in the tenements, she becomes involved in abolitionist and politically progressive circles, fighting anti-Irish prejudice. A few stock villains make an appearance (such as a callous ship's doctor) as do figures like Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Mathew Brady and even Joseph Smith. Moore also follows the fate of Grace's family in County Cork and the Irish political upheavals of the era. The relentless drama of Grace's fight to survive, as well as the rich contextual details, make Moore's sophomore effort as absorbing and accomplished as her first. (Nov. 5)

Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Hardcover - 653 pages - 978-0-7862-5191-9
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!