How Molly Flynn Came to Be
SHE HAD BEEN TOLD many stories, some simple, some filled with wonder. Her favorite story began with a beautiful woman and a million stars.
The beautiful woman was her mother; her name was Calliope. She had light hair that shined in the moonlight. Her eyes were light, too, and if anyone took the time, they’d see all her thoughts and secrets. Calliope tried to keep many secrets. But her eyes gave her away, and Mollie often damned her, for her own eyes were just the same.
Calliope’s big secret was Mollie. Calliope was a lady, still under her father’s fine roof. She was promised to an older man with graying whiskers and ten thousand dollars in the bank. They had never so much as held hands.
Calliope would sit in the parlor on a horsehair-and-velvet couch, listening to the tick of a rosewood clock, reading some bit of poetry. Her left hand held the book to the light. Her right hand was spread across herself, her palm feeling the tiny beat of Mollie’s heart.
When it was time for Mollie to appear in the world, Calliope walked from Washington Square to the Lower East Side. The heels on her soft leather boots tore off somewhere, and soon Calliope stumbled. There were men looking her over, staring with loneliness from under the brims of their slouch caps. She could barely breathe. The sweat that matted her hair did not come from the heavy July heat, but from Mollie, now writhing and twisting, trying to tear her mother in two.
She finally reached the East river. Calliope had meant to drown them both. Instead, her child slid from her body and fell into the water with a tiny splash. There were a million stars that night, wondrous stars, God’s light welcoming her to the world. Mollie knows her mother would have saved her, had she not died in the act of letting go. She does not remember the nun who found her and scooped her from the rushes. Fat, fat baby floating like a fallen star near the river’s edge.
This was the story Sister Mary Clara told her. Mary Clara was dismissed from the charity for telling such gruesome lies to little girls. At Mary Clara’s charity, Mollie went by the name of Sarah.
The story Mollie Flynn liked the least was probably the truth. She had been left in the basket outside the foundling Asylum, lucky enough not to freeze during the night. She was given the name of Margaret.
She had been called Alice and Caroline and even Pennsylvania. Charity to charity, outgrowing one, transferred to another after stealing bread, kicked out from a third for “seducing” the priest at Mass. She’d learned the skills of pickpocketing from Googs Mallory, whose bed was next to hers in the New York School for Delinquent Children. Googs was the only one who believed Mollie’s story. She was also familiar with Father Timothy’s roving hands.
They escaped together, and Mollie became the “stall,” shifting a mark’s attention away from his wallet long enough for Googs to take it. Then one morning, Googs disappeared with money that by all rights should have been shared.
Not much she could do after that but learn the trade.
Title: Bowery Girl
Author: Kim Taylor Blakemore
Genre: Women’s Historical Fiction
From WILLA Award winning author Kim Taylor Blakemore…
“…inspiring and poignant historical fiction novel that will engage readers that are looking for an insightful, yet entertaining read. ” 5/5 stars, Luxury Reader
“lends credence to the millions of historical and contemporary girls who dare to dream in the face of extraordinary challenges.” – Starred Review, Kirkus
“Gang violence, raucous carousing, sex, accidental pregnancy, and crime–not what most will expect from Victorian-era historical fiction. But that’s exactly what they’ll find in this tightly plotted novel…” – Booklist
NEW YORK, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and street urchins, Do-Gooders and charity houses, impossible goals and impossible odds. The Bowery is a place where you own nothing but your dreams. And dreams are the only things that come cheap for pickpocket Mollie Flynn and prostitute Annabelle Lee.
Pleasure is fleeting – and often stolen. Nights at Lefty Malone’s saloon, sneaking into the Thalia Theatre. Then it’s back to their airless, windowless tenement room and the ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their heads and bread in their stomachs.
The Brooklyn Bridge is nearing completion, and things are changing in New York City. The two women fantasize of starting a new life across the East River. Nothing but a flight of fancy, perhaps, until wealthy Do-Gooder Emmeline DuPre, who has opened the Cherry Street Settlement House, steps into their lives with her books, typewriters, and promises of a way to earn a respectable living. Despite Mollie and Annabelle’s fascination with the woman and what she offers, is Emmeline helping or meddling?
Is it really possible to be anything other than a Bowery Girl? Mollie and Annabelle will have to decide exactly who they are, and what sort of women they want to be.
Kim Taylor Blakemore writes women’s historical fiction and romance that explore women’s lives and brings their struggles and triumphs out of the shadows of history and onto the canvas of our American past.
She is the author of the novels Bowery Girl, and Cissy Funk, winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. Her interactive historical romances The Very Thought of You and It Don’t Mean a Thing, are out now on Kindle and SilkWords.com.
Her current novel, Under the Pale Moon, is due for release in Fall 2015. Set in post-World War II Monterey, California, it explores the relationship of a married woman breaking the bonds of conformity, and a combat nurse haunted by the ghosts of war.
She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women Writing the West and Romance Writers of America.
Bowery Girl (Amazon): http://amzn.to/1EVyoxs