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by Jeanne M. Dams
Perseverance Press, September 2008
256 pages
ISBN: 1880284952

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's difficult for women today to comprehend the rigid social structure existing in this country almost within living memory. Yes, we have glass ceilings, and we still have a certain element of social climbing possible. Hilda Cavanaugh, nee Johansson (and when was the last time you saw THAT in a newspaper?), is dealing with her sudden rise in social status. Neither fish nor fowl, she struggles to find her place. As the lady of the house, she is unwelcome and out of place in her own kitchen with the servants. At the same time, the social circle to which she would seem to be entitled entry is not welcoming her, because those women know she used to be a servant.

It doesn't help that it's the dead of winter, snowy and cold and dull as all get out. Patrick is busy with his new job, her old friends are all working, and Hilda is bored. Aunt Molly comes to her rescue, and with her a possible outlet for Hilda's energy. Can Hilda help put together some activities for the restless boys in South Bend? Not just the poor and immigrant, but all the boys?

And while she's at it, on another front, can she help find the real culprit in a murder? The police have settled on Sean O'Neill as the killer, mostly because he's Irish and was on the scene and picked up a wallet. Sean is married to Hilda's friend Norah; Norah is pregnant and hysterical and has a termagant for a mother-in-law. Somehow they all wind up at the Cavanaughs, which certainly gives Hilda motivation to go out and DO something.

Jeanne Dams writes with a great deal of affection about South Bend. She also writes with a clear focus on the realities of life in 1904, with all the mixed blessings that are part of that package. Hilda continues to grow as a character, facing the changes in her life with fortitude and determination. She handles the society women with an aplomb that belies her years. She recognizes the use of power, and plays those cards well, wasting nothing. INDIGO CHRISTMAS is another good read in Dams' series. Would that there were more.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, August 2008

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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