The Irish Milliner by Cynthia G. Neale
Publication Date: June 2, 2017
eBook; 276 Pages
It is New York City and the Civil War is brewing. Norah McCabe, an Irish immigrant who escaped the Famine as a child, is now a young widow with a daughter. She is a milliner, struggling to survive in tumultuous times. Norah meets Abraham Lincoln, befriends the extraordinary African-American woman Elizabeth Jennings, and assists the Underground Railroad. She falls headlong in love with Edward M. Knox, son of the famous hat-maker Charles Knox, but he is lace curtain Irish and she is shanty Irish. Edward joins the 69th regiment and leaves for battle. Can their love endure through class differences and war?
This is a story of survival, intrigue, romance, as well as, exploring the conflict of Irish immigrants thrust into a war that threatened to destroy a nation. It is about an Irish-American woman who could be any immigrant today, any woman today, seeking to create beauty and make sense of her life.
“Suddenly the Civil War seems very relevant and Cynthia Neale does a great job of focusing on the role of the Irish in the conflict. And it's great fun to be in touch with her wonderful character, Norah McCabe, again!” ~Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay and Of Irish Blood
“This timely novel spans centuries to bring to our attention to a topic as old as yesterday, as expedient as tomorrow⎯emigration. Neale's work, written with love and insight, reminds us that our neighbor is all mankind.” ~Tim Pat Coogan, Irish broadcaster, journalist, writer and author of 1916 The Easter Rising, Michael Collins and The Famine Plot
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Norah McCabe is an Irish-American immigrant living in the Five-Points area of New York City right before the Civil War. Norah was widowed on the crossing and now does everything she can in order to support her daughter, Katie. Norah has taken to making hats for the women of Five Points, however she would love to expand her business into a department store. For extra money Norah also writes articles for an Irish Newspaper. As Lincoln takes office, political tensions arise and turmoil bubbles over into the Five Points neighborhood where the Irish and African-American's are both struggling to survive. In her travels, Norah is fortunate enough to have met and befriend Elizabeth Jennings, an African-American schoolteacher. Through Elizabeth, Norah learns about the Underground Railroad and does what she can to help. As the War surges on, Norah's fiance is compelled to join the ranks. In order to follow him, Norah takes a risky newspaper assignment following a photographer to Gettysburg and is able to see for herself the horrors that the war for herself.
The Irish Milliner transported me back to New York City right before the Civil War. Through Norah's eyes, I had a clear view of the trials facing Irish Immigrants at this point in time, the tenement living, the streets of Five Points, the working conditions, as well as what it meant to be a woman fighting for her own independence as well as an abolitionist. For a book written about the Civil War, there were many timely and poignant issues and ideas that Norah faced.
These are the women who fascinate her! No matter Irish women's skin is as pale as buttermilk, the Negro woman and the Irish woman have much in common. Hate and poverty visit all shades of skin, she thinks.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Cynthia G. Neale is a native of the Finger Lakes region of New York and now resides in New Hampshire. She has long possessed a deep interest in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Great Hunger.
This is Ms. Neale’s fourth novel. She also writes plays, short stories, and essays, and holds a B.A. in Writing and Literature from Vermont College.
For more information, please visit Cynthia G. Neale's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.