Back Cover Copy:
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.
The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.
One thing I always look for in any historical fiction is a book that gives me a glimpse into what life was really like in a different time period than my own. I want to know the hardships, the joys, unique perspectives, and societal norms. This book hits the mark on all accounts.
Elise was an identifiable and endearing character who had me rooting for her from the first page. I admired her spunk, her devotion to family, and the way she challenged societal norms despite risk to herself.
I enjoyed Thornton’s character growth. The hints at his depth of character in the beginning had me cheering on his endeavor to explore new ways of doing things that branched off from his family’s expectations to become his own man.
It is a wonderful story with a great cast of characters that tugged on my heart throughout. I learned a lot about the trains that transported women and children away from cities into what was expected to be a better life, but oftentimes held hardships of its own kind.
I was provided a copy by the publisher. All opinions are my own.