Title: These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Romance
Source: Kindle Store Recommendation
Favourite Quote: ““Her fear was strong, but her need for the truth was stronger.”
Why am I not surprised that I’ve fallen into another Jennifer Donnelly novel. Her books are a magical portal into a world I wish to be a part of. I can’t get enough of her work and I’ve made it my mission to read everything she has to offer. If you haven’t checked out her additional works, my personal favourites are The Tea Rose and A Gathering Light (UK). You will not be disappointed if you like historical fiction like me.
These Shallow Graves is about a young woman called Josephine Montfort, who’s family is one of the oldest and wealthiest in New York. Destined to live the life of luxury with a decided handsome suitor to keep the high standing reputation everyone desires, Jo can want for nothing. Expect Jo would rather have something else; a life in which she can be a reporter who is able to tell the world all about the unfair treatment of women in poverty, something which is ignored in her society as it’s beneath their station.
“Well-bred girls from old families came out, got engaged, and then went back – back to the drawing rooms, dinner parties, and dances. They did not venture into the dangerous, dirty world to become reporters, or anything else. Jo knew this but couldn’t accept it. It chafed at her spirit, as surely as the stays of corset chafed her body.”
Her story begins when she is taken out of boarding school when she is told that her father has been killed. An accident when he was cleaning his revolver in his study they say, but Jo doesn’t believe it. He’s always very careful when handling his gun. Determined to try and piece together how he died so she can finally grieve, Jo is startled to discover that there are rumours going around that her father actually committed suicide. In a desperate attempt to discover the truth once and for all, she convinces reporter, Eddie Gallagher, who she overhears talking about her father’s death, to help her.
Together they stop at nothing to find the facts, Jo sneaks around town witnessing the life of the common people in a distitution worlds away from her own comfortable life up town. With Eddie by her side, she feels drawn to this change her life has suddenly taken, even through the difficult circumstance that put her there. Her extravagant lifestyle soon feels like a false unemotional expectation of marriage and children surrounded by useless materialistic possessions. Eddie becomes the spark in her life which can never be. It becomes a fight for the truth as well as her heart.
‘“No. I meant stay with me today. And tomorrow. And every day after.”‘
Together, with the help of the forensic scientist Oscar who works at Bellevue morgue, they discover that Charles Monfort was actually murdered, but with no evidence, no witness and no clue as to who the murderer could be. They’ll break and enter, visit brothels and dig up graves in the dark until they can put her father to rest at last.
‘”I’m fine,” Jo said. But she wasn’t. Her face was as white as chalk. Her body was freezing cold. She hardly knew where she was. She’d just been told a terrible truth and it had shattered her.’
The characters are incredibly well-written, you can’t help but find a special place in your heart for them all. Jo with her outstanding courage to find her father’s killer, even when it means confronting them herself, you can really sympathise with her when she runs away from her heart, it’s a huge sacrifice to give up everything for someone you don’t know. Eddie for his boyish grin and fearless nature, it’s easy to see why nothing fazes him from his upbringing in poverty. He’s our brassy every day hero that we all need in our favourite novel. Oscar and his inability to hold back on gruesome facts of the human corpse to tell you the truth about the death in question. His knowledge on forensic science is one to be challenged in the 1800’s, he is happy to continue along for the soul purpose of science than protest facts to the authorities.
I’m incredibly happy that I found this story on my Kindle. It’s a fantastic book that I would recommend to all and it’s definitely made my favourites shelf. It’s a great twist to find the murderer of Charles Monfort, you won’t want to put this one down!
A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A young woman with more to lose than she knows.
Josephine Montfort is from one of New York’s oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set – after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she’ll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.
But when Jo’s father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.