Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.
The sisters become separated from their father, and after Meg burns her hands in an attempt to save a family heirloom, they make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend not only died during the fire–he was murdered. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.
Though homeless, injured, and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.
Out February 2020
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
This historical fiction was such a joy to read. I was hooked on the premise and why I asked to read and review the book. The interesting aspect of this book is the related PTSD element suffered by the characters’ father, a Civil War soldier. The equivocation between the father’s symptoms and PTSD was so cleverly written, what a concept. To give a Civil War soldier a disorder that was unknown at the time, describe it enough to see that it is indeed, PTSD, but just call it a mental disorder which is probably what specialist thought it was back then.
Using a backdrop of Chicago during the Great Chicago fire is also genius. I love the sisters and their bond. They don’t necessarily agree with each other all the time, which is typical, and yet the strength in their relationship is what holds it together for them and the reader.
This is an emotional read. I dare a reader to claim that they didn’t have tears well up even just a little while reading this book. Bringing readers into the story and emotionally making them part of the events transpiring between pages, taking an emotional investment in what is happening to characters so intricately structured and developed, takes a very special kind of talent.
I love the historical facts revealed in this book. Not too many books that I’m aware of are set during the Chicago Fire, so this was very refreshing to me. I also loved that the author even threw in a mystery too. There are many aspects to Jocelyn Green’s writing that should make her a new like for you. I for one plan on reading more from her and will put this book on my shelves for a future re-read.
I gave it: