"Funny, 'ow you can 'old a jewel in your 'and, and toss it away, and not even know what you 'ad until it's gone." ~Joe~
This seems to be the theme of Fiona and Joe's life. They are living in the area and times of Jack the Ripper and this all ties well into the story.
The story starts out with Fiona, a 17 year old girl who lives in poverty with her parents, 3 siblings and her "uncle". They are a family of hard workers who have to pinch every cent they bring in just enough to survive. There is barely enough food on the table. They are living on the brink of being on the streets yet they are happy and loving. Fiona and the love of her life, 19 year old Joe, have big plans to start a tea shop and live happily ever after. You believe in their dreams because they are both so ambitious and wise for their ages, you can also believe that they really love each other. They save all they can in a tea tin that Joe hangs on to for them. They have it all figured out that in one year they will have enough money to start the business and they will be married.
Very quickly Fiona's dreams turn into a nightmare as her house of cards fall one by one. First Joe gets a new job that takes him out of Whitechapel, the new job is bad news because the bosses daughter is Millie, who wants Joe for herself. Next, her Da is killed in a work accident, which is about the worst thing that can happen as now there will not be enough money for food and their home. Without giving away any more of this fantastic story, things just get worse and worse from there. And eventually Fiona winds up in America where she will have drastic changes in her life. She will start her own business, meet new friends and someone to love. But all through these wonderful changes, in her heart of hearts she still loves Joe. Over in England, Joe's life has gone through many changes as well. But he is an empty shell, paying over and over for losing the one person that meant anything to him.
This story just swept me away, I was so caught up in the lives of these people. All of the characters, and there were many, were so well written that they seemed like friends, or enemies. Joe has taken a bashing in the reviews, but I loved him. He made one mistake as a 19 year old boy, was immediately painfully sorry for it and paid for it for 10 long years! he took full responsibility for his actions and never tried to blame anyone but himself. ( Me, I wanted to jump into the book and beat the heck out of Millie) Joe just broke my heart. Well so did half the people in the story! Sheesh I even felt bad for William! I am anxious to start the 2nd book.