November 25, 2016

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:08 am by suebe2

These Shallow Graves
by Jennifer Donnellythese-shallow-graves
Delacorte Press

Jo Montfort is away from home at finishing school, trying to figure out how to get a story about factory girls into the school newspaper, when visitors from home arrive.  She hasn’t forgotten a planned visit.  An accident while cleaning a pistol has left her father dead.

Jo doesn’t have time to think as she travels home for the funeral.  She’s still deep in grief when she makes a trip to the newspaper her father owned.  While waiting for the editor, she hears a reporter talking about Montfort’s death. The young man claims it wasn’t an accident but suicide and that Jo’s family paid to hush up the truth.

Jo confronts the young man and soon finds herself leaving the safe streets of Manhattan to accompany him to the seedy side of New York City.  She wants evidence even if it leads to a reality that is far from ideal.

Set in New York City in 1890, the story takes the reader from finishing schools and elite drawing rooms to boarding houses and even brothels.  That said, nothing graphic happens.  This isn’t that type of book.  Honestly, it is more likely to be gross than sexy. Among the many people Jo meets is a coroner’s assistant who applies the techniques of early forensic science to his job.

What it is is a historic mystery with a serious amount of romance.  Unfortunately for Jo, she isn’t in love with her fiance but the young reporter she confronted at the newspaper.  Yes, the way the author handles it is 100% believable.

Young readers may be surprised by how sheltered Jo and other young ladies of substance were at this time, especially when compared to working class women and the men in general.  Even Jo’s maid knows who runs in the local brothels although Jo didn’t even know such places existed.  But her ignorance isn’t surprising.  Before they are married, young women have no freedom of movement.  None. They are always chaperoned and closely watched.

How then does Jo have these adventures?  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

–SueBE

 

 

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