Review: Bachelor Buttons by Kathleen Maher
The daughter of immigrants who fled the Irish Potato Famine, Rose Meehan longs for a better life than the tenements of New York City. Courted by two men–a young doctor who represents material security, and a poor violin instructor who has captured her heart–she must choose between a life of advantage-grabbing or a life of faith. When Manhattan explodes in mob rule following Lincoln’s unpopular draft, the heroic action of one suitor brings provision for Rose’s loved ones, and reveals God’s plan.
Writing short fiction is often harder than writing full-length fiction. Though every word should count in a novel, that rule is especially true in a novella where the author has to tell a full-fledged story in less than forty thousand words. With Bachelor Buttons, Ms. Maher packs a lot into less than twenty thousand and proves good things can come in small packages.
This story (the author’s debut) is included in Murray Pura’s American Civil War Series: Cry of Freedom, Volume 3. It’s available as an ebook only.
Because Ms. Maher does a superb job with the terminology and expressions, I couldn’t help but read this novella with a strong Irish brogue. And learning the author based it on the real-life romance of her great-great grandmother made it even more interesting.
Rose is in love with one man, but courted by two. In the beginning, there were times I wondered if I was going to like her or why the men even liked her. It seemed she was a bit vain and was stringing both of them along. Once her family situation became clear, I understood her actions better and sympathized with her over her quandary. The true hero of this book is, literally the romantic hero. Rose learns a lot from him, including how to talk to God.
While this is a romance, when she’s taken to an area considered off limits, Rose must face her bigotry—a bigotry that contributes to the Irish community’s riot against what they consider an unfair practice during the war. (Read Kathleen Maher’s guest post about the riot here.) Bachelor Buttons moves quickly with well-drawn characters and writing that sweeps the reader into New York City in the 1860’s.
So, if you enjoy romance and/or stories about lesser known events involving the Civil War, you’ll enjoy spending the time with Rose, William, and Ian as they “live through” a sad era in America’s history.
P. S.: There’s even a romantic twist at the end of this tale.
It seems to me novellas are becoming more popular. Do you like to read them? If so, why? If not, why not?
Disclosure of Material Connection: This story came to me free from the author with the hope that I would mention it on this blog. There was no requirement for me to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.