The lives of Kitty and her people are bumptious, as early on scandal inspires a move to St. Louis, where they work in mills and as mechanics and bookkeepers, and also find some success, as father Moses, a planner and supervisor, helps build the 1904 World’s Fair. (Young Kitty screams “We’re rich!” when the family gets a car in 1907.) Eventually, they seize the opportunity of opening a grocery, all as they face wrenching travails: natural disasters, mental and physical health issues, a rowdy brother’s temptations toward a life of crime, tragedies personal and public, and even a literal wicked stepmother.
“The blood pumping through the marvelous mechanical heart of this new world is Irish,” Kitty’s father notes, early on, and both Kitty and Price’s love for this family, their lineage, and their era shines through a novel that at times emphasizes thoroughness over narrative momentum. But readers fascinated by Irish-American immigrant life will relish the telling as Kitty—whose people tilt between Mass and respectability on the one hand and Egan’s Rats and after-hour lid clubs on the other—perseveres toward a satisfyingly happy ending. The book is an act of love.
Takeaway: This historical novel, an act of love, digs into an extraordinary Irish-American woman’s life and family.
Great for fans of: Kerby Miller and Patricia Mulholland Miller’s Journey of Hope: The Story of Irish Immigration to America, Pamela Records’ Tied With Twine.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A