Author’s Character Guest Post
My name is Nuala O’Flaherty. I arrived in America from Ireland a little more than a year before Meg. We met at a placement agency. My last employer had passed away and I was looking for another position. Meg was looking for her first placement. We struck up a conversation while awaiting our turns for an interview.
Meg and I quickly became friends. It turns out Meg is a lot like me. We’re both smart, hard-working, stubborn, and determined. But that day when I first met Meg, I wouldn’t have believed it of her. She was fresh off the boat (well, train actually, but that came right after the boat) and hadn’t the first notion of what life and work in America was like. If I hadn’t told her to keep her marriage a secret she probably would have blurted to that prig of a placement agent, Mrs. Cane, that she wanted a job so she could save enough money to bring over her husband. She’d never have been placed had she done that! Domestic servants live in with their employers so they can’t have a family of their own to drag with them. Fortunately, I set Meg straight before she could let on to Mrs. Cane.
It wasn’t long, though, before I saw Meg’s true character. She’d just been confused and uninformed the day we met. Turns out she’s smarter than most and tough as they come, but with heart as big as Ireland. We have jolly times on Thursday afternoons, our day off. Usually we go shopping. I love to wear finery like the Yankee ladies. It amuses me no end when I’m mistaken for one of them, mostly because it annoys them so much. Too many of them look down their noses at us Irish lasses just trying to get by in America. They think they’re so much better than we are, but I wonder how well they’d have fared if they’d had to face what we came from in Ireland.
No matter, Meg and I lucked out with our employers. The Claproods, who employ Meg are nice people. Mrs. Claprood is an especially kind-hearted soul. I work for the Dentons, an elderly couple that most people find eccentric. They are, too, especially Mr. Denton, but in such an endearing fashion, I can’t help but love them.
After she’d been here three years, Meg was able to buy passage for her sister, Kathleen. She got her a job with the family of Mr. Claprood’s business partner. Poor Kathleen was not as lucky as Meg and I. The Pratts are horrible. I can’t imagine how she put up with them for so long. Neither Meg nor I would have lasted, but Kathleen’s got a gentler way about her so I suppose that helped. Now that doesn’t mean she’s weak. Heaven’s no! She’s as spirited as Meg, maybe more so. Good thing, too, or that Pratt family would have done her in.
You may be wondering what the life of a domestic servant is like. Well, I can tell you it’s drudgery pure and simple. We wake well before dawn, light the stove fire, bring up the scuttle from the cellar, stoke all the fire places in the cold months, set the table, shake out the door mats, sweep the steps, prepare breakfast and have it ready to go on the table in time for the family to assemble in the dining room. We wait while they eat in case they should need anything. Once they’ve finished, we clear the table, wash and dry the dishes, and finally eat our own breakfast. The rest of the day is spent cleaning the house from top to bottom – sweeping, dusting, taking carpets outside to beat the dust and dirt from them, polishing the brass and silver, washing and ironing clothes, table, and bed linens (laundry being back-breaking work the likes of which you’ve never seen – three tubs of water, various sized and shaped irons depending on what’s being pressed, heated on the stove until hot enough to use, but not so hot as to scorch), preparing and cleaning up all the meals. In the evenings, there is mending to do. We don’t retire until after the family in case they need us for something. Then we go to bed exhausted and get up to do it all over again the next day. No one can say we don’t earn our pay!
Is it any wonder we relish our days off? Thursday afternoons until Friday mornings are ours to enjoy and we make the most of them. We also have Sunday mornings off for church, but must be back on the job right afterwards.
Grinding toil it is, but I wouldn’t give it up for a factory or mill job. Domestic servant is the best paying job for which an Irish lass can hope. We make enough to send money home to help our families, buy passage to bring more of them over, and have a little left for ourselves. And that’s why on Thursdays I can dress as fine as any Yankee lady!
About Erin’s Children
In 1851 Irish Famine survivor, Meg O’Connor, buys passage to America for her younger sister, Kathleen, and arranges employment for her as a maid. Kathleen’s feisty spirit soon puts her at odds with her employers, the bigoted and predatory Pratts. Driven from their home, Kathleen ends up on a wild adventure taking her to places she could never have imagined.
As a domestic servant in the Worcester, Massachusetts home of the kindly Claprood family, Meg enjoys a life beyond her wildest imaginings. Yet she must keep her marriage to Rory Quinn a secret. Rory, still in Ireland, eagerly awaits the day he will join her. But as the only jobs open to Irish men pay poorly, Rory’s imminent arrival threatens to plunge her back into dire poverty.
On the eve of the Civil War, while America is being rent asunder by the fight over slavery, Irish Catholics wage their own war with the growing anti-immigrant Know Nothing party. Through grave doubts, dangers, and turmoil, Meg and Kathleen must rely on their faith and the resilient bonds of sisterhood to survive and claim their destinies in a new and often hostile land.
About Eileen O’Finlan
Eileen O’Finlan writes historical fiction, telling the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun. Her promise to her readers is to craft stories that will thoroughly immerse them in another time and place.
Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two. Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides.
Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio. Erin’s Children is her second novel and the sequel to her debut novel, Kelegeen.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eileenofinlanauthor/ ;
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eileenofinlan ;
BWL Publishing, Inc. Author Page: http://bookswelove.com/o-finlan-eileen/
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December 7 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 8 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 8 – Christa Reads and Writes – SPOTLIGHT
December 9 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST
December 9 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT
December 10 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 10 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT
December 11 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
December 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
December 12 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST
December 12 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 13 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 14 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT
December 14 – Diane Reviews Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST
December 15 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
December 15 – Author Elena Taylor’s Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
December 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
December 16 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
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