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The Parting Glass

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Member Reviews

The Parting Glass was an interesting take on the world in 19th century New York and the story of a maid falling for her lady. The author seemed to have gone to great lengths to research and tell the story of the racism that Irish people were subjected to throughout the time period. It was also a very heartbreaking tale given the nature of the relationship between two women within the time period. I was definitely pleasantly surprised with this book.
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I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars, rounded down.

I see a lot of glowing reviews for this book, but to be honest, it never really stuck with me. I really wanted to read it because of its Sarah Waters-esque plot description (Waters' "Affinity" and "Fingersmith" are two of my all time favorite books). Unfortunately, this book is lacking in the richness and depth that I really wanted. I never felt like I was drawn into the world, and I found the characters to be rather flat. I think there's for sure an interesting story to be told here, but I needed some polish. The writing was fine, though, and I'd still be up for reading more historical fiction works (with f/f romances) by this author.
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I picked up The Parting Glass partially on a whim, but it captivated me practically from the first page. It tells the story of lady's maid Maire O'Farren, alias Mary Ballard, an Irish immigrant employed by the beautiful young mistress Charlotte Walden in 19th century New York. Maire is captivated by Charlotte to the point of obsession, but Charlotte is having an affair with the stable groom, who happens to be Maire's twin brother. Through this awkward love triangle of sorts, The Parting Glass explores passion and obsession and sexuality and corruption and social unrest in a turbulent period of American and Irish history, and it does so with a gripping, pacy story that I could not put down.
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Any new book that has allusions to Sarah Waters and Emma Donoghue on the dust jacket I will undoubtedly pick up to read.
This debut novel by Gina Marie Guadagnino is impeccably researched, and quite immersing. There is an intricate love triangle, politicking at Irish pubs, the complexities of the NYC upper class, and gang warfare on the streets. I loved reading about allowances (or lack thereof) of women in this time and place from Five Points to Fifth Avenue.
But there was still something lacking for me in this novel. I wasn't as connected to Maire and Seanin as I wanted to be. But that's just me. This is a beautifully written and researched novel about a very specific moment in NY history, and the very real people that might have lived through it.
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If I could give this book 6 stars, I would. I was captivated immediately by Mary and her story. An Irish lady in New York City, when being Irish was a curse, Mary is a lady's maid who must hide her true identity. Mary's brother is her mistress' lover and the only friend that Mary seems to have. But as her jealousy grows and she learns more about her brother, a rift between the siblings grows. 
Written in captivating prose, this book shines. I loved it!
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Eager to hide her past, she must after all being Irish at a time in history when they were so discriminated against and there were no jobs for them. She is able to hide her Dublin accent in New York and become a lady's maid to a rich and accomplished woman of high society.
Her brother isn't as lucky and deals in the cities seedier side. She must also hide the fact she is related to him. The setting is lush and very descriptive.
Her secrets seem safe as long as she can keep them.
Published March 5th 2019
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley through Touchstone. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
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A novel set in 1830s New York City starring Mary Ballard, lady's maid to elegant young heiress Charlotte Walden. The Parting Glass is the sort of novel that really wants to beat the reader over the head with its theme, which in this case is: everyone has secrets. Mary's secret is that she's in love with Charlotte. Also that's she really Maire O’Farren, and her English accent and previous experience as a lady's maid are all lies. Charlotte's secret is that she's sleeping with the stable boy, Johnny Prior. Johnny's secret is that he's really Mary's brother, and Charlotte has no idea. And on and on outwards: the secrets of Charlotte's best friend, of the sympathetic Irish pub owner, of the black prostitute Mary starts a no-strings-attached relationship with as a substitute for Charlotte. (By the way, Liddie – said prostitute and illegitimate daughter of actor Edmund Kean – is the best character in The Parting Glass and I wish the novel was all about her.) Each chapter starts with an excerpt from The Duties of a Lady’s Maid, an actual guidebook of the period, which gave the fictional segments a powerful context in the extreme submissiveness and abnegation expected of servants.

"Lesbian romance in 1830s NYC" is basically everything I want out of life, which is why I feel a bit churlish saying the writing quality and plot didn't quite live up to my usual expectations. There's so many intriguing conflicts here – rich vs poor, male vs female, Irish vs nativist – and though Guadagnino clearly put them intentionally into her worldbuilding, they could have been explored with more complexity. I also super, super hated the epilogue, which seemed to erase all of Mary's character development; honestly, if you skip the last ten pages it'll be a significantly better book. But then again... lesbian romance in 1830s NYC. I'll forgive a lot for that. The Parting Glass is even set in the mansions of Washington Square, which I have a particular fascination for. These days they mostly contain academic offices for NYU, but I spent too many years walking past them daily not to love novels that recreate their former inner lives. 

On the one hand, I wanted more, but on the other hand, lesbian romance in 1830s NYC. I think that's all you need to know to decide if this is a book for you.
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This was an interesting story about a pair of siblings who immigrate from Ireland and go to work for a wealthy family. This is the story of a love triangle. I found it an interesting read. I think fans of historical fiction wpuld enjoy this book. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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The Parting Glass by Gina Marie Guadagnino is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early March.

Intennnnnsely descriptive, both in first-person Mary’s by-rote, straitlaced life as lead lady’s maid and Maire’s devil-may-care, heavy drinking nightlife. Then, through Mary’s eyes in the third-person, is the lady of the house Charlotte’s daily routine, which seems to involve lying in, idling around the house, and being comforted often by Mary, who feels quite sensuous and devoted toward her. From there, it gets a little lost with the many people in both Charlotte and Maire’s social circle, secret lovers, the other members of the domestic staff, flipping through time, and intrigue over Charlotte’s arduous, unplanned pregnancy.
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Maire and Seanin are twins, fresh off the boat from Ireland. They get work in the Walden's house, she as Charlotte 's lady's maid and he as a stable hand. Charlotte Walden is one of the most popular debutants in New York.  Maire or Mary as she is now known, must not let anyone know about her past. She has other secrets that cause her pain and that is her forbidden love for Charlotte. Mary holds her up as an untouchable goddess. Seanin knows she is blood and flesh and loves her. It kills Mary to know that they are together secretly. She knows if they are caught together, it could be death for her and her brother. There is a plan for Mary, Seanin and Charlotte to leave together, but what about Mr Dawson who plans to marry Charlotte? I loved the characters and the time period. I have to admit that I cried really hard at the ending, but there was happiness there as well. I received this book from Net Galley and Touchstone/Atria Books for a honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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I was given a ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review.

This is historical fiction at its finest. Love this sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of New York thru these characters. Its like a magic carpet ride.
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I've seen a few reviews describe this book as 'lush' and that's so appropriate. Gina Marie Guadagnino has captivated Mary and Charlotte's world so fully and completely that it was hard to put this book down - because I wanted to stay inside this world. 

Charlotte is a rich woman of means in early New York City and Mary is her lady's maid, and occasionally, closest confidant. On her night's off, Mary returns to her true self - Maire O'Ferren, an Irish exhile who find release in drinking and in the arms of a prostitute. Meanwhile, Charlotte has been having an affair with her groomsman, who, little does she know, is Mary's brother.

The story unravels, as to be expected, but provides a deep examination of the lives of women in a society that tried to tie them down. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I practically devoured this novel. It packs a lot in between its covers—a love triangle, class divisions, gender issues, the plight of the Irish—but the book never feels overstuffed, nor is any theme given short shrift. The pacing is perfect, 1830s New York well evoked, the characters multidimensional, and the few sex scenes wonderfully written. Just when you think you have the plot sussed, an unexpected but not far-fetched twist appears. The narrator comes across as somewhat unlikeable at first, but as the story unfolds she is revealed to have hidden facets; discovering her depth of character is one of the greatest pleasures of reading the book.
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Wow what a wonderful work of art! I love  the story of love! It did take me awhile for me to get in this book but once I did I loved it!
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Wow, what an awesome book that came out of nowhere! As a Downton Abbey fan, this was like an R-rated version. It involves quite an unusual love triangle and reads like modern day "chick lit" but with depth. The writing style is so smooth, I wasn't tripped up or bothered by the Irish accents, language or 19th century words and expressions. Loved this and hope to read more by this author!
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Historical Fiction viewed in a different light. Rather interesting story line, which I will not give away.
3.5 stars to The Parting Glass. Very descriptive novel and descriptive scenes. 
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review.
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Genre:	Historical Fiction
Publisher:	Atria Books
Pub. Date:	March 5, 2019

This novel takes place in the 1830s.  It has all the makings of great storytelling.  You will read much about Tammany Hall (the name given to the notoriously “corrupt Democratic political machine that dominated New York City politics during the 19th century” Wikipedia).  You will meet Maire O'Farrell and her twin brother Seanin.  They are from Ireland and fresh off a boat that landed them in the poverty-stricken area known as The Five Points.  You might know of the infamous Five Points from the book or the movie “Gangs of New York.”  The Points was a 19th-century neighborhood located in Lower East Manhattan that included Mulberry Street.  Back then Mulberry Street (historically associated with Italian-American culture, where the Mafia blossomed and made the street a household name) was filled with Irish rather than Italian immigrants (if interested, nowadays it is Chinese immigrants that walk Mulberry street).  On the other side of town is Washington Square, which was and still is a very wealthy area.  These families hired cheap labor from the nearby tenements.  This is how the twins end up working as servants in a Washington Square home.  Mary becomes a lady’s maid to beautiful Charlotte Walden, the belle of New York City’s high society.  Seanin, when not busy becoming the leader of an Irish gang, works as a stable groom for Charlotte’s favorite horse.  Both brother and sister fall in love with the mistress of the house.   I am not giving anything away.  All of this is described in the book’s blurb.  Are you in yet?  I was.  So why was I disappointed in the novel? 

You must get by now that “Parting Glass” has a strong feel of Upstairs/Downstairs,” where “Downtown Abbey” meets the “Gangs of New York.”  For this reviewer, the tale should have been a captivating read.  There is love, tragedy, and a good dose of Mulberry St., which just happens to be a neighborhood I used to live in.  But, the storylines didn’t feel properly linked together.  By day, Mary is prim and proper.  By night, she is getting drunk with gang members and slapped around (have no fear, Mary gives as good as she gets) in an Irish pub.  I find it far-fetching that her secret nightlife could be as well hidden from her day life as presented in the book. I also had a hard time buying that Mary’s sexuality was as accepted by all as the author writes, especially by the male gang members.  Personally, I wish that was true, but sadly if I am not mistaken, there was not an LGBTQ community in the Lower East Side for more than a century later.  It is clear that Guadagnino did her research on the history of violence in The Five Points.  Which makes it all the more confusing, on why she writes that in that time period a gay woman could be completely accepted.  I think the author was attempting to emulate Sarah Waters’ erotic thriller “The Paying Guests,” or Waters’ “Fingersmith,” a historical crime novel.  Both books are set in the Victorian era.  Both books are page-turners that include lesbian love affairs.   Guadagnino, like Waters, does a great job of writing intelligently on what in present time is known as “love is love.”  I applaud the author on this. It is the uneven storylines that I have an issue with.   I think a good editor could have made this book a far better read than it is.
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Mary, Charlotte, and Mary's brother are quite the threesome.  I like the historic period this is set in and the author paints a pretty vivid picture of life during that time for both immigrants and high society.  The storyline wasn't very compelling, for me.
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This was a good well written novel. Both the plot and characters were well developed and interesting. It was entertaining and I would definitely recommend both this author and book.
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The Parting Glass is a complex story. Layers of lies from the characters begin to unravel. The plot unfolds as secrets are revealed and hard choices must be made. Family or self? Reputation or love? The story is engaging and hard to put down. It's the kind that pulls you in and keeps your interest until the end. A great read. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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