Nom de Plume Rating: ★★★★ ½
Reading Time: 4 minutes
*FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of Autumn Lady from AnneMarie Dapp in exchange for an honest review. I have in no way been influenced by the author and/or publisher’s generosity. You can’t fake these stars, baby!
Mara McClain is a young Irish immigrant looking to begin anew in Victorian-era San Francisco, after the California Gold Rush. She struggles for both love and independence, as a budding businesswoman in a male-dominated society.
Set amid the fascinating backdrop of San Francisco’s Golden Age, Autumn Lady draws from an eclectic cast of characters, both historical and original. It’s an idiosyncratic journey through the highs and lows, ballrooms and back rooms, alleys and the promenades, and the enchantment and viciousness, of an American city on the brink of a new era.
Autumn Lady is not just the story of Mara McClain, it is the story of both a woman and a city coming of age in one of America’s most exciting historical periods.
First Line: “Her high heels clicked over the marble floor. A pleated skirt brushed against her long legs.”
A woman who longs for independence and love during the age of male dominance in Victorian-era America…
Can two drastically different dreams really become reality in a time where women are not recognized for the force they are? Is there even a man out there that can handle such a woman?
“Eventually, she managed to sit up, roughly wiping away the tears. As she regained her composure, a glint of metal caught her eye. She reached down and touched the small, gold object on the floor. It was cold to the touch. The shiny key was about an inch long and felt heavy in her hand. She looked up at the wooden table, to the right of the easel. The oil on the palette looked fresh. It wasn’t like her grandmother to leave her work area without cleaning up afterwards. She shook her head from side to side wondering if she’d been painting on the day she died. If this was the case, at least she was doing what she loved most. Next to the palette was an old, leather bound book. She examined the worn material. The edges of the pages were gold leaf. There was a lock on the far right side of the cover. She hesitated for a moment. If it was a diary, perhaps she should leave it alone…”
We are first set in modern-day San Francisco. After the discovery of a diary (yussss!!), we are instantaneously transported back in time to Mara McClain. Mara is a young woman fa-a-ar ahead of her time. She’s an Irish-born immigrant whose business aspirations land her in the upcoming city of San Francisco. As Mara makes her way in this rapidly growing city, she soon realizes that life isn’t entirely gratifying if she doesn’t have anyone to share it with.
Autumn Lady is a love story in every sense of the word. From finding love in the arms of another, to learning to love herself, this is an enthralling story of self-discovery with an American backdrop.
Mara is on this epic journey, and boy, does she steal every word off the page! I didn’t care about the supporting characters. Man? What man? Mara is a BOSS, and I’m not usually drawn to heroines like this. I was so incredibly captivated by AnneMarie Dapp’s words and use of language. I could feel the materials on the pads of my fingertips. I could smell the silk.
This book is life.