Review: THE PARTING GLASS by Gina Marie Guadagnino

Janelle Atria Books, Book Reviews, Finished Copy, From Publisher, Historical Fiction Leave a Comment

Thank you so much Atria Books for my gorgeous free copy! 


By day, Mary Ballard is lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, wealthy and accomplished belle of New York City high society. Mary loves Charlotte with an obsessive passion that goes beyond a servant’s devotion, but Charlotte would never trust Mary again if she knew the truth about her devoted servant’s past. Because Mary’s fate is linked to that of her mistress, one of the most sought-after debutantes in New York, Mary’s future seems secure—if she can keep her own secrets…

Meanwhile, Charlotte has a secret of her own—she’s having an affair with a stable groom, unaware that her lover is actually Mary’s own brother. When the truth of both women’s double lives begins to unravel, Mary is left to face the consequences. Forced to choose between loyalty to her brother and loyalty to Charlotte, between society’s respect and true freedom, Mary finally learns that her fate lies in her hands alone.


If the cover doesn’t catch your eye, the synopsis certainly will. A story of Irish immigrants and a love triangle with the backdrop of 1830’s New York – ooh la la!

Mary and Seanin are twins and Irish immigrants that just arrived in a poverty stricken area known as The Five Points. Mary finds work and becomes a lady’s maid to Charlotte, the belle of New York’s high society. Seanin, who is involved in an Irish gang, also finds work as a stable groom for Charlotte’s favorite horse. Mary and Seanin both fall in love with the mistress of the house and both harbor a secret. Mary’s name is actually Maire but they lied in order to work in the same household. Mary tends to Charlotte’s every need, including leaving the window open once a week for her lover, Seanin. This, of course, causes strife between the two siblings.

This has been compared to Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which happens to be one of my favorite books, so I was excited to pick this up. The novel is well-researched with respect to the history and politics of the era. I love the Downton Abby vibe of upstairs/downstairs life in a prominent house. There are a few liberties taken with Mary’s character but because this is technically fiction, that did not bother me. And there are some sizzling, sexy scenes which seem to fit well with the story. 

THE PARTING GLASS is a compelling, intriguing story with rich descriptive language, interesting politics, and complex characters. ★★★★

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