May 30

Victoria Crossing by Michael Wallace

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I received a free copy of this book as part of my involvement with Netgalley. All thoughts are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Victoria Crossing
by Michael Wallace
Lake Union Publishing
Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)



Driven from Ireland during the potato famine, Protestant Victoria MacPherson and Catholic Maeve O’Reilly find themselves thrown together aboard a Manhattan-bound ship. After a treacherous journey, they arrive in New York City in 1851, with only a small purse of silver and the promise that Maeve’s brother will find them there. But when he doesn’t show, the girls are quickly conned out of their savings by a smooth-talking scam artist, leaving the two destitute in the tenements of Lower Manhattan.

As the women work their way from seamstresses earning pennies a day to proprietresses starting their own shop, their success is endangered by the city’s corruption and a disgraceful secret that Victoria has been keeping from Maeve. Jealous rivals, religious prejudice, and the shocking revelation of Victoria’s shameful past threaten to break their bond and reduce the women to rags. But will their strength, courage, and spirit be enough to help them survive and thrive once again?


My review:

I originally picked up this book because I love reading historical novels, especially those set in New York City.  It’s fascinating to hear about this city as the waves of immigrants arrived to help make what it is today. 

While this book does ultimately deliver on that premise, it takes a bit of work to get there. I was very close to putting this book down and not finishing it when I pushed myself to read just one more chapter.  I’m glad I did because I eventually enjoyed the story, though it was very sad at times.  I don’t know that the average reader would push through the somewhat slow beginning.

As for those sad parts, I commend Wallace on his work in this area.  I really felt how hopeless and desperate Victoria and Maeve must have felt when they were penniless and living in a hovel, working their fingers to the bone just to barely scrape by.  Their rise to self-sufficiency seems a bit of a fairy tale, because I don’t feel they could have made it without the help of Joel Silver.  Even if this part of the story is a bit far-fetched, I did enjoy reading about their business.

I felt the ending was a bit of a cop-out.  After all of the tension and fear of the previous pages, it seems like the villain’s last actions are completely against his character, of which we had seen in many terrible ways before. On the other hand, I like how Wallace indirectly told us how the main characters wound up through this antagonist’s eyes – a different way to show us the ending.

Overall, I’m glad I read Victoria Crossing.  It gave me a view into the immigrant experience and helped me remember that I am blessed with so much.

You can purchase Victoria Crossing from various book sellers, including Amazon.com.

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  1. 3

    I enjoy your ‘Book Reports’ and the heads up on the emotions many might draw from a book.

  2. 2
    Denise C.

    I love historical fiction too, but I’m not sure I can deal with anything too sad anymore. Maybe when I was younger and had less to worry about in real life. 🙂

  3. 1

    This book does sound intriguing–especially since I grew up right outside NYC. I know what you mean when you say it is sometimes difficult to get through a book-or to finish it. From your review I most certainly would like to give it a try.

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