Driven from Ireland during the potato famine, Protestant Victoria MacPherson and Catholic Maeve O’Reilly find themselves thrown together aboard a Manhattan-bound ship. After a treacherous journey, they arrive in New York City in 1851, with only a small purse of silver and the promise that Maeve’s brother will find them there. But when he doesn’t show, the girls are quickly conned out of their savings by a smooth-talking scam artist, leaving the two destitute in the tenements of Lower Manhattan.
As the women work their way from seamstresses earning pennies a day to proprietresses starting their own shop, their success is endangered by the city’s corruption and a disgraceful secret that Victoria has been keeping from Maeve. Jealous rivals, religious prejudice, and the shocking revelation of Victoria’s shameful past threaten to break their bond and reduce the women to rags. But will their strength, courage, and spirit be enough to help them survive and thrive once again?
Michael Wallace has created a gem of a story in VICTORIA CROSSING. Two young women with backgrounds more similar than they know, set off from Ireland to America in search of a better life. Like many before them, Victoria MacPherson and Maeve O’Reilly are looking to escape the devastation of the potato famine. During their long ocean journey the two become friends and decide to share their talents and resources upon their arrival in America. Unfortunately after disembarking the ship and entering New York, Victoria and Maeve’s naivety leave them terribly unprepared for the hustle and bustle of life on the city streets. After only a day they find themselves robbed, broken and alone. Left with only two choices the women can accept defeat and join the ranks of the many poor and hungry immigrants or work together to conquer this new and prosperous city.
Michael Wallace has created a beautiful novel in Victoria Crossing. From the Irish countryside to the streets of New York City, I felt like I was there. I could see and hear the hungry devastated Irish families. I could feel their fear as they lost their homes and their loved ones died from starvation. I could feel the frustration of the new immigrants as they wandered the New York City streets looking for work and wanting a piece of the American dream.
I especially loved the characters the author has created. Victoria is a strong female lead wanting to make her break with hard work, grit and determination. Maeve is softer and loyal, but every bit as determined to help Victoria make her mark. Their male counterparts (Joel and Patrick) are strong respectful and protective without being overbearing. I especially liked the development of love and respect between Victoria and Maeve’s brother Patrick. It was not easily won. And last but not least let’s not forget the villains. Every good story has a few of them and this story does not disappoint. To say more would give away the ending and that’s for the reader to enjoy.
If you like a well written novel with strong female characters, a good story line, a little romance and plenty of villains then VICTORIA CROSSING is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too.
I appreciate being given an advanced copy of VICTORIA CROSSING from Net Galley for a fair and honest review.
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