Elizabeth Gaffney’s magnificent, Dickensian Metropolis captures the splendor and violence of America’s greatest city in the years after the Civil War, as young immigrants climb out of urban chaos and into the American dream.
On a freezing night in the middle of winter, Gaffney’s nameless hero is suddenly awakened by a fire in P. T. Barnum’s stable, where he works and sleeps, and soon finds himself at the center of a citywide arson investigation.
Determined to clear his name and realize the dreams that inspired his hazardous voyage across the Atlantic, he will change his identity many times, find himself mixed up with one of the city’s toughest and most enterprising gangs, and fall in love with a smart, headstrong, and beautiful young woman. Buffeted by the forces of fate, hate, luck, and passion, our hero struggles to build a life–just to stay alive–in a country that at first held so much promise for him.
Epic in sweep, Metropolis follows our hero from his arrival in New York harbor through his experiences in Barnum’s circus, the criminal underground, and the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, and on to a life in Brooklyn that is at once unique and poignantly emblematic of the American experience. In a novel that is wonderfully written, rich in suspense, vivid historical detail, breathtakingly paced, Elizabeth Gaffney captures the wonder and magic of a rambunctious city in a time of change. Metropolis marks a superb fiction debut.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Metropolis|
|Release Date: 03-01-2005|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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"Hot corn, get your hot corn!”
Her voice cut through the clamor of Broadway but attracted no customers as she made her way south through the teeming crowd, bouncing her basket on her hip. When she reached the gates of the old fort known as Castle Garden, where the immigration center was, she flashed a smile at the guard, entered the premises and quickly sold her corn, several dozen ears, to the usual cast of hollow-cheeked immigrants. The stuff had been dried on the cob in the fall and had to be soaked two full days before boiling, but even so, it had tasted good to her, five years back, after the unrelenting porridge of the passage from Dublin. Here and there, ears that had been stripped clean lay discarded in the dirt, kicked up against the pillars, along with every other sort of garbage.
So she’d sold her corn, but it didn’t earn her much, just pennies a piece. She didn’t mind. Selling hot corn wasn’t why she’d come. Hot-corn girls were notorious for rounding out their incomes by stepping into corners and lifting their skirts upon request, but that wasn’t the sort of compromise Beatrice had chosen to make. She’d found another way to save up the money to bring her younger brother over, and to keep her dignity, too.
“That was fine, miss,” said a boy, politely swallowing a belch. “Have you got any more?”
He was just about her brother’s age. Her voice had sounded that Irish when she had first arrived. Now it was more flexible; she could show her brogue or not, depending on the situation. She let her voice li