The Parting Glass

Touchstone: S. & S. Mar. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781501198410. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501198434. F
DEBUT In this intriguing historical novel, set in 1837 New York City, debut author Guadagnino explores love and passion, family and loyalty, and class and gender. Twins Maire and Seanin O'Farren flee Ireland for a new life in America, becoming Mary Ballard and Johnny Prior for their new jobs as lady's maid and groom to the wealthy Waldens in fashionable Washington Square. Double lives and secrets abound both upstairs and down- in the Walden home. Mary loves her mistress Charlotte passionately but spends her nights off in a prostitute's amorous embrace, while Charlotte is the proper debutante by day and Johnny's lover by night, not realizing he's Mary's brother. Johnny has a clandestine life of his own, unknown to Mary or Charlotte. When all the deceptions disintegrate, Mary must choose where her loyalty lies—with her brother or with Charlotte.
VERDICT Well-researched historical details lend authenticity to Guadagnino's captivating work, right down to the diction of the dialog. The limited opportunities afforded to women and immigrants by society colors this tale of passion and lies, which will appeal especially to fans of Sarah Waters.

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