4 out of 4 stars
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First, I must say that this was a book that I could not put down! I also did not want it to end! Diana Forbes is a master storyteller who leaves you wanting more.
Penelope Stanton is the 17 year old main character. She's a dutiful daughter who must weather some pretty serious storms. The era is the Gilded Age as well as a time called The Panic, where wealthy Americans were losing their income, their homes and their societal status. Penelope is jarred from the life she once knew and thrown into a world that is completely alien to her....she must work to earn a living. The catch? Her parents expect her to give all of her earnings to them. She has no intention of doing so and makes the decision to leave her beloved New Port and run away with her friend to Boston to join the suffrage movement. Through monumental and life altering decisions, she must map out her own life. From quiet New Port, Rhode Island, to bustling Boston, and on to fast-paced New York. From husband hunting (albeit reluctantly), to suffragist. This is a spellbinding story with twists and turns that will keep you in your favorite reading nook until you have finished it. (I admit I would slow my reading so I could savor the very last pages.)
I gave this story 4 out of 4 stars because I absolutely loved it from begging to end. Forbes beautifully paints for us each new setting. From a quiet life in her peaceful hometown, with horseback riding and small country galas, to big city noise and pollution and glitz of the upper echelons of society. The author details the period dress from makeup, jewelry, and even hygiene habits or lack thereof. The difficulty of being a single woman at that time and in different cities. The deep seeded friendships along the way and the inevitable homesickness that a young woman might feel after being away from the only home she's ever known. I loved the feeling of "being there" and experiencing everything that Penelope felt and saw. There was really nothing in this story that I didn't like or anything I would change. From marriage minded mamas to broken promises to dastardly gentlemen and a mixture of unlikely friends, who turn out to be the family she never knew she needed. It's all wrapped up into this heart warming and adventurous story!
I would recommend this book to any lover of history, an historical romance lover, such as myself, and anyone who loves a strong female lead character. I will most definitely reread this book.
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