Published: April 25, 2023
Where I Got It: My shelf (From the author/publisher for my honest and unbiased opinion)
What happens when a daughter’s dream and a mother’s sordid past collide?
1910 New York. Seventeen-year-old Sylvie and her French-immigrant mother Justine eke out a living doing piecework in a tenement on the Lower East Side, while Sylvie attends school so that she can escape their life of poverty by becoming a teacher.
At least, that’s what her mother believes should happen. Sylvie, though, has a different dream. She wants to be a star in the new moving pictures, just like the beautiful Vitagraph Girl. When she meets a dangerously handsome Italian boy at church one Sunday and he encourages her ambitions, she begins secretly taking steps toward the career she knows her mother won’t approve of.
But Sylvie isn’t the only one with secrets. Justine has kept her sordid past from Sylvie ever since they came to New York fifteen years before, stitching together a fabric of lies along with the shirtwaists she finishes every day, doing everything in her power to keep the truth from her daughter—that she fled Paris as a courtesan after committing a crime that could still get her arrested, or worse.
When Justine’s past catches up with her in a single act of brutality, Sylvie witnesses what she thinks is her mother’s betrayal and runs away during a freak blizzard, putting them both in grave danger.
Ambition, survival, and unexpected alliances combine in this mother-daughter story that proves love can conquer all—at a price.
When I first saw the cover and read the summary I knew I had to check this out right away!
The story follows Sylvie and Justine. Sylvie is 17 years old who is attending school to become a teacher so she can get out of the life of poverty, however, she dreams of more. Justine is Sylvie's mother and is an immigrant from France. She dreams of a quiet life for herself and her daughter. However, when Sylvie meets a dangerously handsome man...things will not be the same. Secrets, betrayal, ambition, hope, and danger will arise.
I really did enjoy this overall. There is drama and secrets and growth between Justine and Sylvie. They both got to share their POVs. We got to understand them both this way and I think it really helped the story in some ways. Now, I will say the plot did seem to have some slow spots due to some inner monologues dragging on a bit but I'm glad we got to understand them both.
Other than that...no issues. I enjoyed the story. It made me sad that Justine had such a bad past and that Sylvie ran off the way she did. However, I think Sylvie going off on her own was important for them both to grow and deal with the past, but it still made me sad. Way to break your poor mama's heart!!!
We had a couple good twists and the ending was nice. It tied in everything together. I actually ended up slightly feeling bad for a certain character (no spoilers) if it was all true. Still don't like that character, of course, but yeah I did end up having some sympathy. The author did a fantastic job showing that everyone is complex and nothing is black and white. It is all a mixture of grey.
In the end, I ended up liking this quite a bit. I loved watching these characters find their way and find their paths. We had some nice twists and turns. There were some slow spots, but I had no other issues. I'll give this 4 stars. A nice historical fiction and a people story that I would recommend.