An Unlikely Suitor

Written by Nancy Moser
Review by Liz Allenby

Bestselling author Nancy Moser takes us to a grand and intriguing time in American history: the Gilded Age. Lucy Scarpelli, sister Sofia, and their mother find work in a prominent dressmaker’s business. As Italian immigrants, New York society frowns upon them, yet their kind employer provides them lodging and encourages them as they grow proficient.

Meanwhile, wealthy customers Rowena Langdon and her mother come to the shop to have dresses made for the summer season in Newport. Rowena, who has a disfigured leg, finds a sympathetic seamstress in Lucy, who creates dresses to fit Rowena’s shape, hiding her disability – a feat no seamstress has ever accomplished in Rowena’s life. Summoning Lucy to Newport, Rowena wishes Lucy to be much more than a seamstress, instead a close and trusting friend. Rowena’s parents wish her to marry the young Edward deWitt from another wealthy family, with the intention of having Edward run the family elevator company. Rowena, as the dutiful daughter, must comply.

As Lucy walks along the seashore in Newport, she meets and falls in love with a young man known to her only as Dante. He understands and accepts her social position and her outlook on life. Her sister, Sofia, and her mother join her in Newport, where Sofia becomes soul mates with Hugh, Rowena’s wild brother. When Morrie the coachman has an accident, and Rowena nurses him back to health, she remembers her true love for this childhood friend. Hidden identities emerge, conflicting with the rigid expectations of this class-driven society.

Nancy Moser creates a complex tale, providing a spiritual journey guiding the characters through their challenges. Her deft characterizations and strong descriptions make the book hard to put down. The reader feels sad when the story ends.