The life of a woman in Victorian England was fraught with social restrictions and professional obstacles. And so Elizabeth Gow, young and ambitious, must give up a future of academic promise at a fashionable London seminary for women to travel to America with her father. All hope vanishes as she boards the ship that will carry her to an uncertain future in an unkwn land. With an unerring ear for Victorian language and a sense of authenticity, Patrick Gregory takes Elizabeth from unsure girl on unfamiliar soil to resilient matriarch. The poignancy of her story lies in its commonality, with its usual share of youthful hopes and soaring ambitions, followed by the disillusionment and unexpected turns of fate. If the heroine's life ends in obscurity, it netheless acquires a certain bility through her persistent efforts to cling to the remnants of her youthful ideals. Brimming with old-fashioned realism, the book recalls the work of Willa Cather and Sherwood Anderson, but with a romantic and pensive edge. What Elizabeth left behind, the ruin of her young dreams, haunts the pages of this book less than her later, earnest attempts to find meaning in her life.
Patrick Gregory, formerly a book editor in New York and Boston, now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wife, Justina Gregory. This is his first novel.