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CHAPTER 1

Saturday, September 26th, 1908

Boston, Massachusetts

 

Every morning, as long as the weather is fair, I come up to the rooftop of our building with my coffee cup and stand among my mother’s tomato plants. I sip my coffee and look across the vastness of Boston Harbor. I never tire of the view. There is always something new to see.

Today the most striking thing about the harbor, more than the schooners and merchant ships traveling to and from imagined destinations, or the hodgepodge of buildings fighting for space on the waterfront, is the fog. The clouds of mist dance on the surface of the water, and the morning sunlight glistening through them gives them an ethereal glow that is so stunning it almost hypnotizes me.

Was this the type of glorious autumn morning that greeted my parents when they came here from Italy twenty-four years ago? Did they wake up on that crowded, rancid-smelling ship and see this type of daybreak over Boston? And if they did, did it fill them with the kind of hope that fills my heart now?

My parents came to America that day dreaming of a better life than they had in their peasant village back in Sicily. As I stand on the rooftop of my family’s building on mornings like this, I dream of a distinctly American life, better than what my parents have today.

My quiet rooftop reverie is interrupted by a screechy-voiced woman hollering out of one of the top floor windows to her husband on the street below, and I realize that it’s time to get the streetcar to go to work. I take one more glance at the fog on the harbor’s glistening surface before I hurry towards the stairs.

Stopping at the fifth floor, I run down the hall to drop my coffee mug at home before leaving. I can hear the Castellano baby crying, Mrs. Mineo yelling out the window to her son Luigi, and five-year-old Anita Pirandello’s horrible coughing. This is life on the fifth floor of 53 Charter Street. Doors are always open. Everyone helps each other. And everyone knows everyone else’s business.

“I’m going to my club meeting right after work so I won’t be home for dinner,” I say to my mother as I enter our family’s tiny kitchen. My mother is sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of clothing from my father’s tailor shop next to her. She is stitching the hem of a pair of navy blue pants.

“Oh Caprice, I thought you had left with Fabbia and Vita,” she says to me in Italian as she looks up. “Here, this is an onion sandwich you can have for lunch.”

She picks up a brown sack on the table and hands it to me.

Grazie,” I say, thanking her. I kiss her on both cheeks, looking at her crinkly, espresso-brown eyes, the deep creases marking her round, pink cheeks. It is like looking in a mirror years from now. I’m okay with this. My mother’s a pretty woman. I only wish I had been born with her shiny black hair rather than my own odd-colored auburn. I’ve always felt God picked the wrong color hair for me.

I’m about to shut the door, when I hear her call out,

“Oh, Caprice?”

“Yes?” I answer, peeking back inside.

“Your father has invited over Enrico Zummo for dessert tomorrow night,” she says. “He’s the son of Joey, the shoemaker.”

“Mama, no. No! Why does Papa continue to do this? You know I…” My mother holds up her hand to stop me as I clench my jaw and feel the warmth of anger creep up my cheeks.

“Caprice, please be patient with your father,” she answers in Italian. This is our language tarantella– we dance back and forth between my English and her Italian. “Please. He’s only trying to do what he thinks is best for his oldest daughter.”

I sigh and realize that I don’t have time to argue or I’ll risk being late for work. That is probably why she decided to warn me about the shoemaker’s son now. She just wanted me to know ahead of time, to try to keep the peace in our house.

“I will try to be patient,” I answer. “I’ve got to go.”

“And you never know, you may like this Enrico, no?” she says and gives me a tiny shrug, her eyebrows raised.

“Yes, you never know, Mama,” I reply. I am a twenty-year-old woman. I would rather die than have my parents arrange a marriage to a Sicilian stranger. Not that she would ever understand. My mother married my father at sixteen, after meeting him once.

I leave our building and hurry down to Hanover Street to catch the streetcar to Madame DuPont’s Millinery, my place of employment since I graduated high school three years ago. It is 7:30 A.M., but the streets of the North End already hum. Shopkeepers wash windows and rearrange their wares on the sidewalks. I see several pounds of macaroni drying in the Caroli family’s pasta shop. Headless, yellow chickens and enormous cuts of blood-red beef hang in the windows of the shop owned by Mr. Tomei, the butcher.

This morning, the unsavory smells of the North End streets — of horse manure and rotting trash — are muted by the smell of strong Italian coffee wafting from many of the windows and the slight, salty breeze coming off the harbor.

I break into a run and jump onto the streetcar just as the doors are about to close. I sink into an open seat in the back and breathe a sigh of relief. Thank God, I will not be late for work. Madame DuPont doesn’t need another reason to berate me. Being Italian seems to be all the reason she needs.

As usual, the ride to Washington Street seems far too short. I feel my stomach tighten as I wave good-bye to the streetcar driver and walk down the clean, quiet street towards Madame DuPont’s. I glance into the gleaming shop windows that display exquisite leather shoes and the latest dresses in taffeta and silk shantung. A woman strolls by me wearing large diamond earrings and a gorgeous, deep green, cashmere cloak. Feeling self-conscious of the frayed cuffs and the missing button I have yet to replace, I pull my own coat around me a little tighter. These are things that I never think about in the North End.

The women that visit Madame DuPont’s shop would never set foot in the North End. Why would they, when they can shop and live in this pristine part of Boston? The Washington Place shops cater to the society ladies of the city. Women who happily pay thirteen dollars for a new fall hat know nothing about what it’s like to live in a place where you share a bathroom with several families. I don’t think I’ve spent thirteen dollars on clothing in the past year, much less on one hat.

I open the door to Madame DuPont’s and smell the familiar sweet and sour scent of new fabric. The walls are painted a soothing cream color and the ceiling is covered in shiny copper. On either side of the shop there are chocolate brown, built-in wooden shelves. All of our latest creations adorn the shelves — turban-style hats made of chiffon and velvet in gray or black, Milan straw hats with velvet trim and silk rosebuds.

Madame is sitting at her desk going over the books and doesn’t even acknowledge my arrival. My Irish co-workers from South Boston glance up only to return to their work when they see that it is me.

I walk over and sit at my lonely, little table at the back of the shop and start to organize the supplies I’ll need for the day. I don’t like working for Madame DuPont very much, but I do love my job as the shop’s sole trimmer. I was promoted to the position last year. Once the shop’s makers shape the hats, it is my task to make them beautiful by adorning them with unique combinations of flowers, ribbons, feathers and lace.

We work in silence for about an hour. When it’s so quiet like this, I often imagine that I’m sitting at my own shop in the North End, selling gorgeous, affordable hats to the women of my neighborhood. I envision an impeccable, little storefront on Hanover Street. The ivory-colored paint trim would be spotless and the windows would always gleam. My finest creations would be displayed in the front glass window.

My own hat shop. Caprice’s Millinery. It is what I want more than anything in the world. And tomorrow I will finally have a discussion with my parents about paying board, so I no longer have to hand over every penny I earn to them. I need to save my own money and finally do something about opening my hat shop instead of just dreaming about it.

Suddenly Madame DuPont bolts out of her seat, walks to the middle of the room, and announces in her haughty French accent, “We will have a short meeting at noon today after I distribute your pay envelopes for the week.”

All of us look around, although no one meets my glance. We’ve never had a meeting in all of the time I have worked for Madame. I have no idea why we would start now.

Madame ignores our reactions and walks over to Bridget, one of the makers, taking her silver reading glasses off her long, pale nose. “Bridget!” She says in that jarring tone that cuts right through you. “That hat looks terrible.” She clucks her tongue and shakes her head. “Your work is still so sloppy. Sometimes I wonder if you’ve learned anything from me. Here, hand it to me, I will fix.”

Bridget’s face turns crimson and she stares at the floor while Madame DuPont tries to fix the mess of a hat she’s been working on. Madame is right; Bridget’s work is terrible. I stroke the fluffy ostrich feather I am holding and try to concentrate on the work in front of me, but my body is so tense that I can’t focus. Whenever she yells at any of us, it’s just a reminder that sooner or later it will be my turn again.

There was a time when I would walk to the streetcar with the South Boston girls at the end of the workday. We would joke about whom had endured the worst of Madame’s harassment and take turns imitating her French accent. It made working for Madame a little more tolerable.

All of that ended when the shop’s former trimmer left to have a baby a year ago. When Madame DuPont chose me to train as her replacement, the South Boston girls stopped talking to me. They had all worked in the shop at least a year longer than I had, and they resented my promotion.

By the end of each week, I can barely stand it anymore. After six days working in the icy atmosphere of the shop, I can’t wait for the comfort of my weekly Saturday Evening Girls meeting.

The Saturday Evening Girls Club, or S.E.G. as we all call it, is a club that I have been a part of since I was thirteen. We are not young girls any more, but the name remains the same. At the S.E.G., we have educational speakers and discuss literature and listen to music. But what I love most about our weekly meetings is sitting in the back of the room with Thea, Maria and Ada, my best friends, talking to each other about whatever is on our minds that week. The S.E.G. meeting is not only the best part of the week for me; it is the best part of vita mio, my life.

A couple of women visit the shop in the course of the morning and Madame DuPont transforms into the vivacious French shop owner. Her small blue eyes glisten; her faux smile warms as she tells a short, stout woman named Mrs. Cabot about how wonderful she looks in a gray turban. The hat is all wrong for her. It makes her look like a jar of olives that’s about to explode.

Getting lost in the art of making hats is the only thing that gets me through the days – and the pay, of course.

At noon, I am anxious to hear Madame’s news, thinking that it must be something quite important to call a meeting with all of us for the first time. She quickly passes out our pay envelopes and stands at the front of the shop facing all of us at our worktables.

“As of next week, I am closing the shop and moving to New York. My husband has been offered a new job at a bank in New York City, so I am bringing my business there. Boston is second class to New York when it comes to fashion, anyway.” She says this to us in an icy, stiff voice, looking above our heads so she doesn’t have to look any of us in the eye. Smoothing her skirt she informs us, as casually as if she were talking about the weather, “This is your last day of employment at the shop.”

We all sit there in stunned silence. A hot, queasy feeling washes over me and I fear I might have to run out to the street to be sick.

My dream starts to evaporate into the air around me. I can’t believe this is happening. No job. No more pay. My family can’t afford to have me living at home and not working, not while Fabbia and Vita are still in school. I’ll be forced to get a horrible factory job like my friend Thea. And my father will be more determined than ever to marry me off.

“So, that’s it then?” I hear someone say in an Irish brogue, anger and tears choking the voice. “You’re just turning us out onto the street? Just like that?”

Madame DuPont looks down her nose. Her eyes reveal no sign of sympathy. “Well, yes, I suppose I am,” she says, adding with a wave of her hand. “But I have trained you all well. This is one of the most well regarded shops in Boston. You should – well, most of you should – be able to find other jobs.”

With this, one of the girls grabs her things and storms out of the shop. A few others follow after her. I gather up my coat and hat in a daze, the sick feeling getting worse as I stand up. Bridget exits without saying good-bye; I hear her sniffling as she slams shop’s door behind her. I am anxious to leave, too, especially now that I am alone with Madame.

“Caprice,” she says, as I am about to run for the door. I look up at her, wanting to scream at her for the way she just turned us all out on the street, for all of the harsh comments and treatment over the past three years. But, instead, I just meet her gaze, my eyes as cold as hers. I won’t let her see me cry.

“You are a very talented trimmer, Caprice,” she says, squeezing her hands together. “Very talented. Perhaps one of the best I have ever had work for me. Still...good luck. You’ll need it.”

For a brief moment, I can’t move. I am taken aback by her words. On my last day of employment, Madame DuPont has given me genuine praise. Something I have been waiting to hear since I started working for her three years ago. But she has to ruin it by wishing me luck – “you’ll need it.” Why? Because I’m Italian, perhaps? That is what she doesn’t say

There is an awkward pause as I just stand there, before I start blinking back tears. I take a deep breath and answer in a harsh whisper, “Good-bye, Madame.”

I bow my head and rush towards the door, not daring to look back for fear she’ll see me weeping.

 

 

 

“A shared trouble is half joy.”- Italian proverb

CHAPTER 2

It’s still drizzling when I arrive at the headquarters of the Saturday Evening Girls on Hull Street in the North End. I realize I must look like a fright but I don’t care. I had spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Boston, not wanting to go home to face my family, but not having anywhere to go until the S.E.G. meeting started.

I enter Hull House through the basement, which is now the storefront of the newly opened Saturday Evening Girl’s Pottery Shop, the business that supports the club’s activities. I walk through the shop and go up the basement stairs, climb one flight past the first floor pottery workroom and one of the meeting rooms, up to the second floor assembly room. It is a large, welcoming space with an enormous marble fireplace. The fire is blazing and the room is warm, the smell of wood-smoke mingling with the dry, toasty scent of the pottery kilns two floors below.

I see Ada, Thea and Maria sitting at our usual seats in the far back of the room before they notice me. Ada has a book on her lap as usual, her petite hands flying as she tells Thea and Maria a story. Maria’s enormous blue eyes widen and she bursts out giggling at whatever Ada is saying. Thea is facing away from me so all I see is her haphazard chignon of honey brown hair, but her laughter is so loud it echoes against the assembly room walls.

“Hello ladies,” I say as I come up behind Thea’s chair.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Caprice, what happened to you?” Maria asks, jumping up to pull over a seat for me. “Sit down, you look awful.”

“Oh Caprice, you’re soaked to the bone,” says Thea, taking my coat and hat from me as I take them off.

“Are you okay?” Ada says, grabbing my hand.

“I’m so glad to finally see you all,” I say, sinking into the chair Maria brings over. “It’s been a horrible day.”

I tell them the story of what transpired at Madame DuPont’s that morning. They sit around me in a circle, and, despite my troubles, the familiar happiness I feel when the four of us are together washes over me. How many times and in how many places have the four of us sat like this, trying to find answers to the problems in our lives? Too many to count.

Gazing at them today, I still see remnants of the girls we once were when we met seven years ago. Tiny, five-foot tall Ada with her shiny black braids and dimpled cheeks, studies me intently with her dark eyes. Maria pulls at one of her platinum blonde curls, her alabaster skin growing pink with anger as I get to the part about Madame closing the shop. Chubby, freckle-faced Thea’s round, green eyes fill with pride for me when I tell them that Madame called me one of the most talented trimmers she’s ever known.

“That witch!” Maria exclaims, as I finish my story. “I can’t believe she would just turn you all out into the street.” She says it loud enough for a few girls in the assembly room to look at us.

“Maria,” Ada says, her voice low. “I’m sure Caprice doesn’t need the whole club to know what happened just yet.”

“No, please! Not yet,” I say, holding up my hand. “My family doesn’t even know yet. Oh yes - if that wasn’t bad enough, my mother told me my father is bringing another potential husband over for dessert tomorrow night. Enrico Zummo, the shoemaker’s son.”

The three of them groan when they hear this. They are well aware of my father’s matchmaking attempts.

“So,” I add, throwing my hands up in disgust and slouching very unladylike in my chair. “My dream of opening my own hat shop – the dream you have all listened to me talk about for the past year, seems very out of reach at the moment. I was planning to ask my parents tomorrow about paying board. But of course that will not happen now. I don’t know what in God’s name I’m going to do next. I may get some advice from Miss Guerrier…or Mrs. Storrow, if she’s here tonight.”

“Yes, she is coming,” says Ada with a nod. “Fanny Shapiro just told me that she was.”

Miss Guerrier is the head librarian at the North End library and the founder of the S.E.G. Mrs. Storrow is a prominent member of Boston society who took an interest in the club years ago and has helped support it ever since.

“I bet Mrs. Storrow or Miss Guerrier can help you,” says Thea. “You have skills – you’re a beautiful milliner. Your hats are exquisite. Look at me – I have no real skills at all – outside of assembling boxes - and they were able to find me a much better job.”

“Oh Thea, they really did?” I ask. “Congratulations, that’s wonderful news. No more box-cutting factory?”

“No more box cutting factory. And no more hemorrhoids from sitting all day long on that horrible stool…well, at least hopefully they’ll clear up now,” Thea says, turning crimson. “And no more boss that curses all day. Miss Storrow found me a job with an interior decorator downtown. And I’m going to be working right near the dress shop Maria works at, so we can take the streetcar together. Oh…but Caprice, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m gloating.”

“Not at all Thea,” I say with a smile. “I’m thrilled for you. And your parents?” I ask, hope in my voice. “Are they happy for you too?”

“They’re the same as ever,” says Thea, her tone is resigned. “They still barely acknowledge me unless it’s to give orders to cook or clean something. Since my sister’s baby Benjamin was born it’s gotten even worse.” Thea shrugs.

All of us nod. There’s nothing to say. Thea’s parents have been cold and indifferent to her for years.

“Thea you know I understand how that feels,” Maria says. “Although my poor mother acknowledges me of course, it’s my father who I think would rather I wasn’t around. He never came home for dinner, so you know that means he’s going to stumble home in the middle of the night horribly drunk.”

Thea, Ada and I just wait for her to continue. We have heard many variations of this story.

“Antonetta is here with me tonight. Honestly, if we could, I would stay overnight here with her. Last Saturday night, he came home at two in the morning, dragged my mother out of bed and told her to make him something to eat.” Maria bites her lip and gives us a mischievous look. “I sent her back to bed and made him a cheese sandwich – but I made sure to spit into it before I gave it to him.”

We all gasp.

“Maria you didn’t!” I say, hand over my mouth.

“Oh, but I did,” she says, crossing her arms in front of her. “And I don’t feel one bit sorry about it.”

“Did he notice?” asks Ada, grimacing at the thought.

“Oh please ladies, if I had served him horse manure he probably wouldn’t have realized it,” says Maria, her mouth twisted with bitterness. “But enough talk about my father. You’ve heard it all before. Ada, you had started telling us about your college classes before Caprice got here.”

“Yes, I love them,” she answers, smiling. “They’re going so well, and my father doesn’t suspect a thing.”

“Do you think you and your mother will be able to keep it that way?” I ask.

“I really think so. As long as we’re careful,” Ada says with a nod. “That reminds me – do you think Frankie or Dominic might be able to walk me from the street car on the nights I have class? It’s too risky having anyone from our building walk me – people talk too much.”

“I’m sure one of them will Ada. I’ll ask them,” I answer.

Last month, Mrs. Storrow told Ada she had found a scholarship fund so that Ada could attend Simmons College at night. Ada’s mother had agreed to let her attend the night classes, but they had decided not to tell Ada’s father. Ada’s father believes that higher education should not be wasted on a woman.

“I’ll mention it to Frankie and Dominic tomorrow at dinner.” I say. “What time do you…

“Good evening ladies,” Miss Guerrier's voice booms across the room

Miss Guerrier is wearing the simple, charcoal gray wool skirt and plain white shirtwaist she always wears. Her reading glasses are forever on a chain around her neck, and her graying, dark brown hair is in a neat bun. She looks across the room, smiling at all of us, and waits a beat until we are quiet before she speaks again.

I look out across the crowd and it seems everyone is in attendance tonight. Since the S.E.G. began so many years ago, it has grown to forty members. Like Maria and I, some of us are from Italian immigrant families. Our parents came over from peasant villages in Sicily or Parma or Avellino. Others are from Jewish immigrant families, who came over from market towns in Russia called shtetls. Ada and Thea’s families came from the same town near the Black Sea.

“Good evening,” Miss Guerrier says again when everyone has finally stopped talking. “Welcome. I hope all of you had an enjoyable workweek. We have altered the planned agenda for tonight. We have postponed our scheduled speaker, Professor Johnson, until further notice. Instead, after some brief pottery shop updates from me, Mrs. Storrow has a very exciting announcement.”

The room starts humming as to what this announcement might be, and Miss Guerrier pauses before continuing, “After discussion surrounding this announcement, we will have refreshments and, if there’s time, some folk dancing.

“First, some updates from the pottery shop,” says Mrs. Guerrier. I half listen to what she is saying, as I’m too preoccupied thinking about the events of the day, and of how my conversation with Miss Storrow and Miss Guerrier will go. Could they be able to help me find another job? What will my family have to go without this week if I don’t bring home a pay envelope?

“And now for the good news and the bad news,” Miss Guerrier says with a smile. “The good news is that our wonderful pottery shop sales clerk, Concetta Leone, has been accepted to the nursing program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton!”

The room erupts into applause, and I spot a blushing Concetta a few rows in front of me as she gives a small wave and nod of thanks.

Miss Guerrier continues, “The bad news is that she will no longer be able to work at the pottery shop because she will be working as a nurse’s aide at the hospital. Thank you for all of your hard work Concetta, we wish you luck in this exciting new chapter in your life.”

With this last bit of news, Ada and Thea both elbow me at the same time and Maria leans over in her seat, her eyes bright with excitement.
“Caprice, this is perfect,” whispers Ada. “You have to talk to them about working at the pottery shop – I bet they’re going to want someone else to start right away.”

“Ada, they may already have someone lined up.” I whisper back, trying not to sound too hopeful.

We stop talking because now Mrs. Storrow is at the front of the Assembly room and we’re all curious to hear the big announcement. In truth, I felt a tiny surge of hope when Miss Guerrier said Concetta was leaving. Could I work at the pottery? Even temporarily?

Tonight, Mrs. Storrow is radiant in a navy blue silk dress with a cream colored yoke. It complements her lovely pale complexion and chestnut hair perfectly. Maria cranes her neck to see her and she gives a little sigh when she gets a full view of what she’s wearing.

“Good evening ladies,” says Mrs. Storrow looking around the room with a warm smile. “Now for the big announcement that you have been waiting for,” she pauses for dramatic effect. “I am pleased to announce that we will do one more performance of The Merchant of Venice this year. Mrs. Jack Gardner has invited our group to perform at her gorgeous home, Fenway Court, three weeks from today, to help raise funds for the S.E.G. The patronesses attending will be some of the most prominent ladies of Boston society!”

Maria and Ada, who both have lead roles, nearly jump out of their seats. Gasps and chatter fill the room.

“This is going to be quite different than performing for a bunch of sniffling, yawning school children,” says Maria with a smile, tossing her hair over her shoulder.

“Okay ladies, we have chocolate almond biscotti, coffee and lemonade for refreshments,” says Mrs. Guerrier, nearly yelling above the buzz of chatter and laughter. She glances down at her watch and with a laugh says, “And in lieu of folk dancing how about some socializing.”

As soon as she says this, I’m already out of my chair and it’s all I can do not to run to the front of the room to where Miss Guerrier and Mrs. Storrow are talking and having mugs of coffee.

“ Hello Miss Guerrier, Mrs. Storrow.”

“Hello Caprice, how are you?” Mrs. Storrow says, giving me a warm smile that makes her eyes crinkle up. “And how is the lovely Madame DuPont?” She asks this with the smallest hint of sarcasm in her voice. “I haven’t been by the shop lately.”

“Well,” I say, my jaw clenching at the thought of Madame DuPont. “Unfortunately, you won’t be able to visit the shop again. Madame has decided to close it and move to New York. I lost my job today.”

Mrs. Storrow and Miss Guerrier both gasp as Miss Guerrier reaches out and puts her hand on my elbow.

“Come, let’s sit and talk,” Mrs. Storrow gently puts her arm around my shoulder and the three of us walk over to some chairs in the corner where we can talk quietly and actually hear each other.

We sit down and again I describe what transpired at Madame DuPont’s.

“The most frustrating part of this is… I was planning on having a discussion with my parents about paying board, to start saving so I can open my own hat shop here in the North End. Mrs. Storrow, you put the idea in my head a year ago and I think about it all the time. But it’s a little difficult to talk to my family about paying board when I don’t even have a job.”

“Caprice, I don’t blame you for being so upset of course,” Miss Guerrier says, polishing her reading glasses as she speaks. “But don’t lose heart, you are a gifted milliner – and if you want to open a hat shop some day in the North End, I have no doubt you will achieve it.”

“Caprice, I wouldn’t have suggested opening your own shop someday if I didn’t think it was an actual possibility,” adds Mrs. Storrow, leaning over and patting my hand. “You must know enough about me by now to know that I’m not one to ever give people false hopes.”

“Well, thank you both for listening,” I say, realizing that since I arrived at Hull House the queasiness in my stomach has disappeared.

“Now there’s the issue of what you’re going to do for work,” says Mrs. Guerrier. And then, giving me a sly smile adds, “At least in the short term, I know of a certain pottery shop that needs a new sales clerk.”

“Yes, of course,” says Mrs. Storrow, clapping her hands together. “Oh, good thinking, Edith. That works out perfectly. You can start work Monday, that way you won’t even miss a week’s pay. But Mrs. Guerrier is right; it would only be for the short term, for the next few months. The pottery is still not making the money I had hoped it would, and this spring I’m going to have to eliminate a couple of positions, including sales clerk.

“I understand completely,” I say. “Short term is enough time to help me figure out what I’m going to do in the long term. I can’t tell you how relieved that would make me if I could take it – as you said, even if it’s just for now.”

“Of course you can,” says Miss Guerrier. “You can meet me here early Monday morning and I’ll show what you need to know.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

I'm a Boston-based writer and consultant. Years ago I wrote an article about the Saturday Evening Girls Club and their pottery and it inspired me to write this novel. My publishing credits include the Boston Globe, AOL/Huffington Post, Boston Magazine, The Street, Concierge, New England Home and Publisher's Weekly. I have two perplexing pre-teen daughters, two idiotic cats and one amazing husband. I like running, reading, drinking coffee and cooking...just not at the same time.

Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
This is based on the true story of a group of young Italian and Russian immigrant women in Boston's North End at the turn of the twentieth century. They were poor, first generation Americans, but many of them pursued their own unique American dreams at a time when women couldn't even vote.
Q. What did you learn while writing this book?
A.
The more I learned about the women of the Saturday Evening Girls Club and their mentors, the more I wanted to write this novel. They were smart, sassy, strong and ambitious, and many of them remained friends their entire lives. Some of their pottery is now at the MFA and other major art museums.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Ultimately this is a story about the power of female friendships. The truest friendships elevate you and help you be the best version of yourself that you can be. That's what the members of the Saturday Evening Girls Club did for each other.

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