Inspired by various newspaper articles and stories from the last four centuries, Booker Prize finalist Donoghue’s masterful short story collection explores the ways people’s lives can take unexpected and unprepared-for turns.
A fallen woman in Victorian England supports herself and her child by the only means available to her until her younger brother comes up with another option. As the Civil War rages on, a slave and his mistress plot a daring escape. A bitter Puritan seeks revenge upon two women who spurned him. A woman sails toward Canada to join her husband, not knowing he’s fallen gravely ill with cholera. A lawyer sets his sights on a wealthy young widow who seeks his help. A young woman makes a startling discovery about her politically powerful father after his death in New York City at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Donoghue details the particular historical source that inspired her at the end of each story, and she discusses how each one fits in with her overall theme in the afterword. Revolutionary-era New Jersey, Civil War–era Texas, the gold rush Yukon, and many other settings come to life in this wonderfully imaginative, transporting collection.
~adapted from Booklist review