Old New York

False Dawn, The Old Maid, The Spark, New Year's Day (Novellas)

Publisher: New Canadian Library
A series of four interconnected novellas, painting a vivid portrait of New York through the middle of the 19th century.
 
In the 1840s, Lewis Raycie is sent to Europe by his father to purchase art by famous painters. The elder Raycie, a self-made man, wants to establish a family dynasty and hopes that a respected art gallery well help entrench his family in New York’s upper crust. But when his son returns home with works by cutting edge but unknown artists, it threatens to tear this fledgling family apart.
 
In the 1850s, Delia Ralston’s cousin Charlotte is about to be married but has a dilemma. Her husband-to-be wishes her to give up her work at an orphanage where, unbeknownst to him, Charlotte’s illegitimate daughter resides. Delia wants to help her cousin out, while also looking out for Charlotte’s future husband, who is in turn her husband’s cousin. And then there is the young child to worry about, an orphan in the public eye who has no prospects to speak of…
 
In the 1860s, a young man named Hayley joins the Civil War and is wounded. Three decades later, the narrator traces the way his life has unfolded since the war.
 
Finally, in the 1870s, a woman named Lizzie’s apparent affair is causing a scandal throughout the city, but the relationship is not as it appears...
 
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