Summary and book reviews of The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross

The Latecomers

by Helen Klein Ross

The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross X
The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2018, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 16, 2019, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Meara Conner
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About this Book

Book Summary

A deeply moving family drama about a young Irish immigrant, an ancestral home in New England and a dark secret that lay hidden in its walls for five generations.

In 1908, sixteen-year-old Bridey runs away from her small town in Ireland with her same-age sweetheart Thom. But when Thom dies suddenly of ship fever on their ocean crossing, Bridey finds herself alone and pregnant in a strange new world.

Forced by circumstance to give up the baby for adoption, Bridey finds work as a maid for the Hollingworth family at a lavish, sprawling estate. It's the dawn of a new century: innovative technologies are emerging, women's roles are changing, and Bridey is emboldened by the promise of a fresh start. She cares for the Hollingworth children as if they were her own, until a mysterious death changes Bridey and the household forever. For decades, the terrible secrets of Bridey's past continue to haunt the family. And in the present day, the youngest Hollingworth makes a connection that finally brings these dark ghost stories into the light.

Told in interweaving timelines and rich with detailed history, romance and dark secrets, Helen Klein Ross' The Latecomers spans a century of America life and reminds us all that we can never truly leave the past behind.

1.
Bridey

Hollingwood
October 1927

That morning, hours after the cock crowed but before the townhall bell chimed eight, Bridey mounted narrow steps leading up from the kitchen, holding tight to the fluted handles of a silver oval on which Mr. Hollingworth's breakfast quivered. Serving gloves weren't insisted upon at Hollingwood as they were in the big houses on Fifth Avenue, where a friend from home worked, but Bridey sometimes wore them anyway - it spared prints on the silver, which saved time in the long run; the trays and pouring pots needn't be polished so often.

Mr. Hollingworth's breakfast was meager fare compared to the morning feasts she and Nettie used to cook up: blood sausages and custards, fruited popovers and muffins, eggs poached and scrambled and over easy or hard, depending on how he and his four children preferred them that day. But that was years ago, when the children were children, and breakfasts were rollicking starts of days in the dining room instead of quiet ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Latecomers is an excellent blend of equal parts historical fiction and family drama, with just a hint of a mystery thrown in. It is a brilliant examination of friendship, family, and the ties that bind us together.   (Reviewed by Meara Conner).

Full Review Members Only (593 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This is a satisfying blend of historical and familial drama.

Booklist
Meticulous tracking of conventions, domestic conveniences, and more will please readers who like to be immersed in a different time.

Library Journal
Fans of historical sagas will enjoy this dramatic tale.

Kirkus Reviews
Fans of historical fiction will find much to enjoy - a reprise of the well-loved immigrant narrative and a meticulous depiction of early-20th-century life.

Author Blurb Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life and What Comes Next and How to Like It
A born story-teller, a brilliant writer, a century of American history, and an old house that has witnessed secrets, betrayals, love and death, read the first page and I dare you to stop. With The Latecomers, Helen Klein Ross has outdone herself.

Author Blurb Kate Walbert, author of His Favorites and A Short History of Women
A triumph of storytelling, The Latecomers is a brilliantly researched and masterly told...Ross has written a novel brimming with historical resonance, a riveting read infused with subtle wit and great intelligence.

Author Blurb Mary Norris, author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
Skillfully constructed and rich in detail, Helen Klein Ross's The Latecomers showcases a gallery of vivid characters-Bridey is a particularly sympathetic heroine-and covers a significant span of Irish-American history, unfolding brilliantly from the story of an adoption.

Author Blurb Dawn Raffel, author of The Strange Case of Dr. Couney
A pair of devastating secrets twists and turns through this riveting, multigenerational novel of a wealthy east coast family and the Irish maid who served them. The Latecomers is about money, identity, and desire - but above all, it's about the lengths to which people will go to protect the ones they love.

Author Blurb Lynn Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe and Twain's End
An engrossingly rich, unforgettable read. The breadth of her research in this novel astonishes me. I couldn't put it down.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Family Through the Ages: Multi-Generational Sagas

HomegoingThe Latecomers utilizes a multi-generational structure to bring the stories of the Hollingworth family members vividly to life. Here a few more novels I recommend that employ a similar narrative structure:

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Allende's first novel follows three generations of the Trueba family. Esteban, the patriarch of the Truebas, is a proud, unpredictable man who is voracious in his pursuit of power. The novel also follows his wife, Clara, a delicate woman with a mysterious connection to the spirit world; and his daughter, Blanca, a strong-willed girl who embarks upon a forbidden love affair. The House of the Spirits is an enchanting epic that spans lives and decades, weaving together the political and the ...

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