Across the Ocean Wild <— HISTORICAL ROMANCE!! SHE MUST CHOOSE BETWEEN MARRIAGE OR BECOMING A NURSE… we have 5 Fun Facts (like… this one is loosely based on her grandmother’s life!!), and the author is today’s newsletter sponsor!
So what’s it about?
She is reading Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; he wants to marry and build her a house.
Set in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Across the Ocean Wild is the story of an Irish immigrant girl, Rose O’Brien, who loses her mother in the Russian flu pandemic of 1889, inspiring her to become a nurse.
Rose is wooed by an Italian boy, Anthony Vigliano, who lives in the same tenement and grows up to be a draftsman, working with the renowned Stanford White and Charles McKim on blueprints of mansions and public buildings.
Their stories are interwoven with those of their families and diverse friends, including the story of Rose’s best friend, who gamely launches a business as a hatter from her father’s grocery, and that of a muckraker investigating Tammany Hall politics and Gilded Age robber barons.
As Rose pursues nursing, she and her friends strive to better themselves, struggle with prejudice and class issues, join a suffragist reading group, fall in love, and face the conflict between their studies and the lure and distractions of love.
There was a marriage bar in nursing at the time, and Rose must choose between risking her fledgling career and marriage. One of the main characters is New York City at the dawn of the 20th century, but many of the issues and the bravery of nurses still profoundly resonate today.
Across the Ocean Wild is above all about strong young women who demand to be treated equally, as the heroine declares:
“I may not have a penny to my name, I may live in a tenement and speak with a brogue, but I’m just as much a person as you are.”
Five fun facts about my novel:
1.) Across the Ocean Wild was inspired by my ancestry research and is loosely based on the story of my grandmother.
2.) I was astonished to learn that nurses were forbidden to marry in the late 19th and early 20th century—as late as the 1940s.
3.) The tenement apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that the main character, Rose, grows up in was inspired by the real apartment a friend of mine once lived in. It now rents for a huge amount.
4.) Before the first New Year’s Eve ball dropped from a flagpole in Times Square, revelers flocked downtown to Trinity Church Wall Street to hear the bells ring in the New Year, as do Rose and her friends.
5.) An above-ground reservoir once stood on the site of the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, and Edgar Allan Poe used to walk around on top of the reservoir, one of Rose’s favorite places to stroll.