Publication Date: April 12th, 2016
In Depression-era Boston, a city divided by privilege and poverty, two unlikely friends are bound by a dangerous secret. . . .
Maeve Fanning, a first generation Irish immigrant, was born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and headstrong, Maeve is determined to better herself despite the hardships of the Great Depression. However, she also has a dangerous fondness for strange men and bootleg gin—a rebellious appetite for experience that soon finds her spiraling downward in New York City. When the strain proves too much, Maeve becomes an involuntary patient in a remote psychiatric hospital, where she strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic young woman, who, like Maeve, is unable or unwilling to control her unladylike desire for freedom.
After her release, Maeve returns to Boston to start over again, landing a job at an antiques shop catering to the city’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. Run by an elusive English archeologist, the shop is a haven for the obscure and incredible, supplying one-of-a-kind artifacts to its customers while providing Maeve with unique access into the world of New England’s social elite. While delivering a purchase to a wealthy family, Maeve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar—only to discover she’s the same young woman from the hospital.
Reunited with the charming but increasingly unstable Diana and pursued by her attractive brother James, Maeve becomes more and more entwined with the Van der Laar family—a connection that pulls her into a world of moral ambiguity and deceit. Bewitched by their wealth and desperate to leave her past behind, Maeve is forced to unearth her true values and discover just how far she’s willing to go to reinvent herself.
A rich, universal story of ambition, transformation, desire, and betrayal, Rare Objects is acclaimed writer Kathleen Tessaro’s finest work to date.
What Did I Think About the Story?
Depression-era United States isn't a place and time I've read much about but, after reading Rare Objects, I'm starting to think that's been a mistake. Given this story's subject matter, the contrast between the poor, crowded, down on their luck immigrant communities like the one Maeve grew up in and the rich, opulent, and wanton world she becomes enmeshed in while working in the antiques store, is glaringly clear and that much more poignant for it. Whether this is just due to the subject matter or is due to the author's spectacular writing style - stark at times, whimsical at others, and always eloquent - I'm not sure. But regardless of the reasons, I absolutely loved it!
The beginning of the novel is perfect, showing Maeve down on her luck and back at home with her mother, trying to make a new start for herself at a high-end antique store (dying her hair, lying about her origins, and going by "May with a y") while we, the reader, get to also see glimpses back over the last year as Maeve struggled in New York and then the mental hospital. This format does a great job of giving the reader a well rounded view of who Maeve is at this point of her life and just how much she lies, to herself as well as everyone else, about who she is. I loved Maeve from the beginning as she is such an intelligent, strong, and spunky character. However she isn't the only incredible character...Rare Objects is simply packed full with flawed and wonderfully complicated characters that I won't soon forget.
One such character is Diana Van der Laar, someone I really didn't start out liking but that soon became impossibly endearing. Maeve and Diana seem to understand each other better than just about anyone else - they've both felt low enough to try and harm themselves, they've both felt like no one else really knows them and that the personas they present to the world are simply mirages, that secrets and lies are the only way to survive - but as Diana's character develops we start to see that there is quite a bit more going on in her life than Maeve could have expected. Diana seems to have actual mental issues going on such as impulse issues, paranoia and manic depression, aggravated by the painful experiences she has gone through and the shame she has gotten from her family. Both of these characters are incredibly damaged by what they've gone through and neither are sure how much they can trust anyone, even each other, in their quests to become happy, healthy women.
Delightful character development aside, Kathleen Tessaro's writing blew me away! Her writing has a very classic feel to it and is simply lyrical and engaging. There is a part at the very end of the book, where the owner of the antiques store Maeve works at describes the technique used to repair one of her mother's beloved tea cups, that so perfectly wraps up the overall theme of the story as well as represents the beautiful language found through out -
"It's not just a method of repair but also a philosophy," he explained. "It's the belief that the breaks, cracks, and repairs become a valuable and esteemed part of the history of an object, rather than something to be hidden. That, in fact, the piece is more beautiful for having been broken." - page 379
This quote so perfectly represents for me most of the characters' journeys and just how much stronger and valuable they are for having experienced them. It's by being honest about who they each are - the good and the bad - and what they want out of life that they can finally heal and be the people they were meant to be. This realization is breathtaking and I can't express how happy I am to say that many of our characters end up getting what they deserve, whether that is a good thing or not.
It has been a while since I've finished a story and actually felt kind of sad that the experience is over. I absolutely loved my time spent within the pages of Rare Objects and cannot recommend it enough to everyone.
What Did I Think About the Cover?
Love it!!! It's kind of funny because, as I'm reading the story, I couldn't help but start to envision the red haired girl with her chin tilted up and a look of defiance in her eyes as our fiery Maeve. I thought the cover was made with her in mind. Then a lovely book blogger friend of mine, Erin from Flashlight Commentary, did a Cover Cliche that showed the image on the cover on a number of other covers as well (thank you, Erin, for bringing this to my attention!). So, while I no longer feel it was "made for Maeve", I do think it represents her character and the setting perfectly. So still a great job!
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Rare Objects in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for information on the author, the book, and the blog tour!
Buy the Book
About the Author
Kathleen Tessaro is the author of Elegance, Innocence, The Flirt, and The Debutante. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and son.
Find out more about Kathleen at her website and connect with her on Facebook.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to offer up one copy of Rare Objects for giveaway, open to US only! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (all links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!
I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on May 13th, 2016 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.
TLC Book Tour Schedule for Rare Objects
Tuesday, April 12th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 13th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, April 14th: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, April 15th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, April 18th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, April 19th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, April 20th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Thursday, April 21st: Curling Up by the Fire
Friday, April 22nd: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, April 25th: Always With a Book
Tuesday, April 26th: West Metro Mommy
Thursday, April 28th: #redhead.with.book
Friday, April 29th: For the Love of Words
Monday, May 2nd: Puddletown Reviews
Tuesday, May 3rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, May 4th: The many thoughts of a reader
Thursday, May 5th: Time 2 Read
Friday, May 6th: A Literary Vacation