A “vivid tableau of 1870s Manhattan” (Entertainment Weekly), City of Promise continues Beverly Swerling’s acclaimed epic saga as New York emerges from the Civil War into the Gilded Age—a city marked by soaring expansion and dazzling glamour.
Beverly Swerling’s epic saga continues as New York emerges from the Civil War into the Gilded Age—a city marked by soaring expansion and teeming with unbridled ambition and dazzling glamour. Joshua Turner returns home from the war with only one leg yet determined to make his fortune. He aspires to build the city’s first apartment houses for Everyman, a daring vision that will make him the city’s first real estate titan but attracts the attention of a shadowy figure from his past. Mollie Brannigan, raised by her Auntie Eileen in the toniest bordello in town, is resigned at age twenty-two to spinsterhood. Then Joshua finds her at Macy’s, the city’s largest emporium, and takes her coaching in Central Park. In his love Mollie finds a world of possibilities, but a secret Eileen thought left behind in Ireland will force Mollie to employ all her wits to protect not just her chance at happiness but her life. Vividly imagined and awash in period detail, City of Promise delivers not only suspense and intrigue, daring plot twists and bitter rivalries, but also the captivating love story of two people struggling to forge their own destiny.
Swerling's latest epic reveals the extremes of New York's Gilded Age. When one-legged Joshua Turner returns home after the Civil War, New York is still a city of horse-drawn vehicles and boarding houses. With plans swirling for the Brooklyn Bridge and an elevated train, Josh realizes that the city lacks housing for working class families, and limited land prevents sprawling housing projects. He develops a scheme to build vertical housing, which is initially funded with the dowry received from his wife Mollie's Aunt Eileen. A fortunate encounter with Ebenezer Tickle, a dwarf familiar with the new Bessemer process of making steel, enables Josh to successfully build profitable multi-storied apartment buildings. Unfortunately, New York is a city of graft and greed and Josh's success is coveted by others, especially Trenton Clifford, who wants Josh's land holdings to destroy Josh, and because the land's value will escalate when a proposed subway system is built. Clifford employs murder, extortion, and even kidnapping to gain his ends. Although the pace often lags in this sprawling novel, Swerling (City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York) vividly captures the greed, corruption, violence, and banking failures that accompanied vast new advances in transportation, communication, and lighting during this era.