STORY: Lucy Scarpelli, an Italian dressmaker from New York, befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she’s making her summer wardrobe. It’s an unlikely friendship, but one that Rowena encourages by inviting Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Grateful for Lucy’s skill in creating clothes that hide her physical injury, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future.
One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what man will accept her family responsibilities? Rowena also deals with love as she faces a worrisome arranged marriage to a wealthy heir. And Lucy’s teenage sister, Sofia, takes up with a man of dubious character.
All three women struggle as their lives, and those of each unlikely suitor, become intertwined in a web of secrets and sacrifice. Will any of them find true happiness?
REVIEW: New York City – Summer 1895
The Scarpelli family is barely scraping by. Dante Scarpelli was killed in an accident while working on the docks. Lucy, in her mid-20s and her sister, Sofia, a teenager, live with their mother, aunt and uncle in a run-down tenement. Lucy and Sofia work long hours in the garment district, while Mamma makes flowers for hats at home. Then comes a notice that they are going to be evicted. In addition, their aunt and uncle plan to move across the country and join their son. Lucy takes it upon herself to find new lodgings for them. Luckily, she accidentally bumps into a gentleman who owns a dressmaking shop and is looking for a renter for the upstairs apartment. Lucy is thrilled with the apartment and the gentleman arranges to hire Lucy, Sofia and their mother to work in the shop. Life begins to improve for them until the man who handles accounts for the owner, Mr. Bonwitter, begins to harass Lucy and Sofia in the back of the shop. The man makes life difficult for the girls having to always be on the lookout for him.
When Rowena Langdon comes to the shop to have some dresses made, Lucy notices how unhappy she appears to be and that she has a limp. The clothes made for her do not fit correctly due to damage she received to her leg as a child. Lucy takes it upon herself to remake a gown for Rowena with special padding to make the dress fit her imperfect body. Rowena is thrilled and asks that Lucy be the one to make all of her clothes as she will soon be heading to Newport for the summer season. The owner of the shop and Sofia are jealous of her good fortune but Lucy is so delighted to see Rowena happy.
Rowena has always been a shy young woman embarrassed by her limp. She is so pleased with the friendship she has made with Lucy and finds a way to have her come to Newport and work on her clothes. When Lucy gets a break to walk along the grounds, she meets a very nice young man whom she calls Dante after her father. They continue to meet and soon become friends.
When a costume ball is decided upon, Sofia and Mamma join Lucy in Newport to help make the costumes.
This is a lovely, clean, Christian novel that I enjoyed immensely. It clearly defines the differences between the classes in the late 1800s. Each character is well written and their personalities clearly defined. I certainly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading even more from this author.
Connie for b2b