Life was hard for most people in 1820. At the time in Ireland the life expectancy was only 40 years. Most people worked the fields from sun up to sun down and only had Sundays off for church. Twenty-two year old Jane made a promise to her mother that she would take a ship away from Ireland with her three-year old son for a better life in America. Jane’s husband Thomas would join her when he could afford the trip.
As soon as she gets on the ship, Jane finds out she is pregnant and things are going to be harder than she thought. When she makes it to Philadelphia she finds learns the family she will live with expects her to work and pay rent. They have a job lined up for her, she then has to deal with a boss that sexually assaults her.
Tower Of Tears by Rhoda D’Ettore is a hard book to put down. The story is excellent with a little mystery and quite a few twists. The characters are great and the book does a great job showing you what life was like in 1820. After reading this I found myself thinking that if I had to live in this period I couldn’t survive. Times were hard for Irish immigrants back then with lots of businesses refusing to hire them. It was even harder for a woman, as Jane’s boss is about to sexually assault her he tells Jane to check all the signs around town that say they won’t hire Irish Immigrants and Jane feels hopeless and does what he asks.
Jane’s story had me hooked right away, this woman thinks she is going to live the American dream but her dream quickly becomes a nightmare. She looks for help from the church which is unwilling to help her. This woman who tries so hard to be a good mother and wife does her best to survive but society is against her. In a time when the church is an important institution in people’s lives, Jane feels abandoned by god and is left to deal with her problems with help from her family.
Tower Of Tears shows how women of this period get treated through Jane’s story and through some of the other female characters. You see Katie, the woman Jane moves in with deal with this man’s world in her own unique way. Woman were not allowed to own property during this period and when Katie’s husband goes missing while working in a mine, she finds a way to keep her home. One of my favorite scenes in the book was when a female friend of Jane’s who was attacked by a male intruder and had the property in her husband’s home damaged. She has the police come to the home and they say they can find and arrest the man responsible but not for the assault on her, only for the damage to property. The woman points out how horrible it is that someone can get away with abusing a woman but this is how it is during the 1820’s.
Tower Of Tears is an excellent read, I can’t say enough good things about it. I loved how strong the female characters were and the glimpse of how society was at the time. This book even has some humor as Katie’s mother shares stories of things they will have in the future such as a washing machine. This book is a masterpiece and even if you don’t like historical fiction you will like this.