“Betrayal. Despair. Murder. Blackmail. Romance. Tragedy.
In the 1820s, a young woman embarks on a journey for a better life in America. She brings with her a three year old son, and plans to live with relatives she has never met in Philadelphia. Her loving husband remains in Ireland, taking in boarders and working the farm to save money for his departure.
Along the way, Jane realizes she is pregnant, then soon is told she is expected to pay rent, and work in a factory. Her new boss begins to sexually assault her, convincing her that a pregnant Irish woman would never find work. She turns to her priest with no results. She is trapped!
Don’t miss out on this Irish family saga!”
It’s telling how much the times have changed when you read a line in a book that says there’s no way a woman can inherit property and you wonder if you’re reading some kind of dystopian science fiction. That’s not to say we, as a culture, have finally come to the startling conclusion that women are people, too, but at least women can vote and own property which is a damned sight better than they had it in early 19th century.
Now, before anyone starts talking about how women are still not completely equal, let me just say I agree. There’s still work to do. All I’m saying is it used to be one hell of a lot worse than it is now.
Which leads us full-bore into Tower of Tears, Rhoda D’Ettorre’s look at the life of a family in 19th century United States. There’s relgious tension, class tension, and nationality tension. This was the time of life in the United States where the country was a much different place. People worked six days a week for a pittance, laborers had very little recourse under the law, women had precisely zero rights, and signs like this were commonplace.
This is the lan of opportunity that Jane, an Irish immigrant, and her son land in. Needless to say, it’s a harsh awakening, and they discover a country that’s somewhat less than enthralled to meet them. Tower of Tears is the story of a family struggling to get by and the lengths they go to just to make it from day to day. It’s not an easy book to read but the best books rarely are. Tower of Tears will take you places, and even if those places aren’t always nice they’re places everyone should know about.
Tower of Tears is as much a history lesson as it’s a work of fiction and the world becomes just as much a character as the rest of the characters in the book. The world around Jane, Liam, Katie, Michael, Thomas, and the rest influences their decisions and drives their motives, and that makes for an interesting read. All too often historical ficiton focuses exclusively on the role the environment and ignores the characterization of the people driving the narrative. Tower of Tears manages to effectively blend the environment and the characters to create wonderful read.