In Name Only by Ellen Gable (author of Emily's Hope) I was hooked. The winning combination: characters I could believe in, an interesting plot, and a setting in 1876 Philadelphia! I love books with a local flavor, and even had my Philly map spread out so I could follow the characters' paths through the city.
I found myself rooting for several of the characters--even ones I didn't like at the beginning of the novel. Here's the story: an orphaned teenager who spent most of her childhood and teenage years caring for her chronically-ill father travels to Philadelphia to live with relatives after his death. On the train, she meets a caring young man and his crass older brother, who turn out to be her neighbors. Caroline believes her life is destined to be a fairy tale--until tragedy strikes, and the unexpected happens.
This novel covers a wide range of topics: Catholicism, alcoholism, difficult pregnancies, social conventions and more. The characters' personalities grew and matured throughout the novel, and the historical detail pointed to diligent research on the part of the author. Ellen Gable really made this time period come alive in the book.
This novel has a lot to recommend it--and I definitely recommend it. I'm looking forward to the author's next book, due out in September.
Fine Print: I won a free electronic edition of this book as part of an online giveaway. I received no compensation for this review, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.