The Girls with No Names

Park Row: Harlequin. Jan. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780778309994. $27.99; pap. ISBN 9780778308737. $16.99. F
In the early 1910s, teen sisters Luella and Effie Tildon, wealthy Manhattanites, feel confined by the conventions and expectations of their class and gender. Outgoing and adventurous Luella convinces shy Effie to sneak way from the family mansion to visit the local “gypsy” encampment. Luella is fascinated by the Romani community and she continues to return to the camp in secret, eventually attracting the attention of a boy. Though she’s reluctant to leave her younger sister, who’s frail due to a heart condition, Luella rebels against her increasingly restricted life. After an explosive family argument, Effie wakes up to discover that Luella is gone; she fears that her parents have sent Luella to the House of Mercy, an institution for wayward girls. Determined to rescue her sister, Effie lies her way into the home, only to discover that leaving is impossible. She risks escape with another inmate who senses that Effie is more gravely ill than she admits. Burdick’s (Girl in the Afternoon) story, sometimes lyrical, sometimes starkly realistic, explores the dark reprecussions of family secrets and the drive for love and acceptance.
VERDICT A well-plotted story with an excellent sense of time and place. Readers looking for historical fiction with emotional depth will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/19.]

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