Book Review: Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Bowery Girl CoverTitle: Bowery Girl

Author: Kim Taylor Blakemore

Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

From WILLA Award winning author Kim Taylor Blakemore…

“…inspiring and poignant historical fiction novel that will engage readers that are looking for an insightful, yet entertaining read. ” 5/5 stars, Luxury Reader

“lends credence to the millions of historical and contemporary girls who dare to dream in the face of extraordinary challenges.” – Starred Review, Kirkus

“Gang violence, raucous carousing, sex, accidental pregnancy, and crime–not what most will expect from Victorian-era historical fiction. But that’s exactly what they’ll find in this tightly plotted novel…” – Booklist 

NEW YORK, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and street urchins, Do-Gooders and charity houses, impossible goals and impossible odds. The Bowery is a place where you own nothing but your dreams. And dreams are the only things that come cheap for pickpocket Mollie Flynn and prostitute Annabelle Lee.

Pleasure is fleeting – and often stolen. Nights at Lefty Malone’s saloon, sneaking into the Thalia Theatre. Then it’s back to their airless, windowless tenement room and the ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their heads and bread in their stomachs.

The Brooklyn Bridge is nearing completion, and things are changing in New York City. The two women fantasize of starting a new life across the East River. Nothing but a flight of fancy, perhaps, until wealthy Do-Gooder Emmeline DuPre, who has opened the Cherry Street Settlement House, steps into their lives with her books, typewriters, and promises of a way to earn a respectable living. Despite Mollie and Annabelle’s fascination with the woman and what she offers, is Emmeline helping or meddling?

Is it really possible to be anything other than a Bowery Girl? Mollie and Annabelle will have to decide exactly who they are, and what sort of women they want to be.

In Bowery Girl, Mollie and Annabelle struggle with day-to-day life in the streets of New York at the end of the nineteenth century. The girls live in poverty, and the circumstances they live in are far from ideal. Mollie is the rational, practical type while Annabelle is the dreamer of the two of them, although they do share the fantasy of starting a new life across the river. Both of them have an unique personality, and together, their dynamics are intriguing. I found Annabelle the most interesting of the two of them. Being pregnant, she wanted to turn her life around, and she was brave and a good friend, and wanted to do what was right for her unborn child, all admirable traits.

My favorite part of the book was no doubt the setting and the author’s attention to historical detail. Reading this book made me feel like I left in New York in 1883s. The characters are portrayed well, and with historical accuracy too (as in, they don’t act totally out of character for how women would behave in that age). Too often I see contemporary characters thrown in a historical setting and half-expect them to dig out their cellphones halfway through the book, but not here.

The writing is pretty decent, and overall, it’s an enjoyable story about daring to dream even when your dream doesn’t seem that likely of coming true.

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