• Hardcover: 400 pages
• Publisher: Harper (April 12, 2016)
In Depression-era Boston, a city divided by privilege and poverty, two unlikely friends are bound by a dangerous secret. . . .
Maeve Fanning, a first generation Irish immigrant, was born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and headstrong, Maeve is determined to better herself despite the hardships of the Great Depression. However, she also has a dangerous fondness for strange men and bootleg gin—a rebellious appetite for experience that soon finds her spiraling downward in New York City. When the strain proves too much, Maeve becomes an involuntary patient in a remote psychiatric hospital, where she strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic young woman, who, like Maeve, is unable or unwilling to control her unladylike desire for freedom.
After her release, Maeve returns to Boston to start over again, landing a job at an antiques shop catering to the city’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. Run by an elusive English archeologist, the shop is a haven for the obscure and incredible, supplying one-of-a-kind artifacts to its customers while providing Maeve with unique access into the world of New England’s social elite. While delivering a purchase to a wealthy family, Maeve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar—only to discover she’s the same young woman from the hospital.
Reunited with the charming but increasingly unstable Diana and pursued by her attractive brother James, Maeve becomes more and more entwined with the Van der Laar family—a connection that pulls her into a world of moral ambiguity and deceit. Bewitched by their wealth and desperate to leave her past behind, Maeve is forced to unearth her true values and discover just how far she’s willing to go to reinvent herself.
A rich, universal story of ambition, transformation, desire, and betrayal, Rare Objects is acclaimed writer Kathleen Tessaro’s finest work to date.
Maeve Fanning is the daughter of an Irish immigrant trying to muddle through Depression era Boston. In an attempt to get away from Boston’s North End, she begins a dangerous downward spiral when she moves to New York and takes the only job she can find as dancing with men at clubs, drinking and eventually landing herself in a psychiatric hospital in upstate New York. While in the hospital, Maeve crosses paths with another young woman who seems as lost as herself. When Maeve returns home to Boston, she feels defeated; in need of a job, Maeve transforms herself to look to part for a salesgirl in an upper-class antiques store. Catering to the wealthiest collectors, the store sells unique and rare pieces. Maeve soon starts to find her place among the antiques and their proprietor until one day a familiar face from the psychiatric hospital shows up as a customer. Maeve and the fabulously wealthy Diana Van der Laar join together in their shared unbalanced emotional states; but as Maeve is pulled into Diana’s upper-class world, she must hide her true self even more and risk losing who she is altogether.
From the very opening sentence of Rare Objects, I knew I was hooked. I was immediately entranced by Maeve’s character; she was moving forward, reinventing herself, trying her best to forget an event in the past and doing it all with strength and conviction. From there, Maeve’s story only grew on me. From her tumultuous but loving relationship with her mother, to her desperate time in New York and the psychiatric hospital back to the North end of Boston and the antiques shop, Maeve’s journey is one of high aspirations, friendships and most of all identity. Diana’s character also made my heart break, though unstable, she is constantly doing her best to be herself in a world that won’t let her be. The writing drew me into all of Maeve’s different worlds; I could imagine the hustle and rich scents of Boston’s North end, the glamour and starkness of the Van der Laar household and the hope and peacefulness amid the objects in the antiques shop. Overall, I loved the message that things that have been broken and found their way back together again are all the more beautiful.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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