I wasn’t quite sure just where this story would lead when I started: two sisters, Ivy and Rose, who were struggling to survive through their own personal demons. What emerged is a lovely story of personal growth, redolent with the feel of New York City at the height of the 20’s, with language, dress and feel that brings the city to life.
I don’t know if Hayes and Nyhan intended the girls’ names to become a part of the transformation, but when the story begins Rose, the elder, is far more the homebody and good girl, quietly keeping their life in line. Ivy, unlike her name, is the bolder more carefree and impulsive one, always dreaming of leaving their small town and heading for the big city. Needless to say, these two girls are constantly bickering, while they have a touch of the familial obligations, neither is particularly fond of the other, and these resentments seem to run deep.
When their father dies and leaves them near penniless; they discover a long-hidden secret brother who has been willed the family home, they find no option but to travel to the city, and seek him out. Where we expect Ivy to flourish and spread her wings, and Rose to further disappear into herself and become even older than her few years would indicate, the girls are slowly finding their own strengths and skills.
Of course, every element of their story is tinged with their slow discovery of their brother’s whereabouts, and the secret their father held for so many years. As Ivy, he bolder and ‘faster’ of the two finds that life in the fast lane is ultimately hollow and scary, Rose starts to find her own strength in organizing, understanding and ferreting out the truth around all situations.
These two grow slowly into the qualities that their names suggest, and along the way learn to lose the long-held resentments and slights that have held them apart for so long. With a myriad cast of characters that add life, interest and intrigue to the story, and the hints dropped as they search for the brother they never knew keep the pages turning. Tidbits of the scenery, language and sounds of New York add a solid sense of place, and the historical details are described in ways that bring visualizations to life.
This isn’t a high-powered action packed story, it is slower in developing and revealing its intention and purpose. A simple story of finding your true place and strength in times of turmoil and change, this was an emotional read with plenty of elements that felt very of the 20’s, as these women learned to navigate their ever-changing worlds.
Title: Empire Girls
Author: Loretta Nyhan, Suzanne Hayes
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction /Family Saga
Published by: Harlequin MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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The critically acclaimed authors of I'll Be Seeing You return with a riveting tale of two sisters, set in the intoxicating world of New York City during the Roaring Twenties.
Ivy and Rose Adams may be sisters, but they're nothing alike. Rose, the eldest, is the responsible one, while Ivy is spirited and brazen. After the unexpected death of their father, the women are left to reconcile the estate, when they make a shocking discovery: not only has their father left them in financial ruin, but he has also bequeathed their beloved family house to a brother they never knew existed. With only a photograph to guide the way, Ivy and Rose embark to New York City, determined to find this mysterious man and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
Once in New York, temptations abound at every turn, and soon the sisters are drawn into the glitzy underbelly of Manhattan, where they must overcome their differences and learn to trust each other if they're going to survive in the big city and find their brother. Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, Empire Girls is a love letter to 1920s New York, and a captivating story of the unspoken bond between sisters.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.