I loved this book. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I read it in less than 24 hours. Now in my defense there was a swim meet involved and so I had very little to do for a whole afternoon.
This story is set just after the World Fair in Chicago. Chicago itself has a notorious reputation and this story doesn't disappoint. It's not graphic or nasty just shows a glimpse into the rough and tumble of the underground illegal scene that was rampant during that time.
Lydia works in the 'Reading Room' (the library). She becomes interested with a mysterious gentleman 'Sebastian'. He doesn't give his name, nor does he borrow books, just comes in and sits quietly and reads.
They both love books and seem to have a lot in common, although they actually come from completely different worlds. A chance meeting starts a chain of events that changes their lives forever.
Can Lydia trust Sebastian, who seems to control the city - Is it power or fear or a combination of both. Lydia is living the illusion that she has money while trying desperately to secure a husband. Money is running short and there isn't much left to sell to try and make ends meet. Her father left Lydia and her Mother in a very poor financial situation.
Sebastian has managed to crawl out of the gutter - almost literally. He craves 'respectability' and has created the illusion of being respectable, as long as his two worlds don't collide. Until they do...
I love how well this book shows the plight of people that lived in this time period. It was so easy to drop into a desperate situation where someone would do almost anything to stay alive. There is a fine line between respectability and desperation, in this time it was money.
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