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Editorial Reviews

BookLife 8/30/2022

BookLife (a division of Publishers Weekly) will syndicate the review to online retailers and database services like Gale, OverDrive, and other places "where readers, booksellers, and librarians go to look for the next big book." It will also appear in Publishers Weekly's October BookLife supplement on October 3, 2022. (If the image print is too small, the full text is reproduced below it.)

BookLife Review

The text.Centered on the life of an Irish American woman and family who persevere in the face of every hardship America could throw at them between the 1880s and the Great Depression, Price’s sweeping historical novel stands as an engaging story of grit, determination, and love, bringing fresh life to the memories of past generations’ with painstaking research and a novelist’s imaginative power. Price draws from the life of her own grandmother, the model for Kitty Flanagan, the “generous woman” (and eventual “bearcat”) that Kitty’s People follows from hopscotching in LeClaire, Illinois, to a teen running the register at a market in St. Louis during the First World War, to facing personal tragedy and holding the family together at the height of the Roaring ‘20s and beyond.

The lives of Kitty and her people are bumptious, as early on scandal inspires a move to St. Louis, where they work in mills and as mechanics and bookkeepers, and also find some success, as father Moses, a planner and supervisor, helps build the 1904 World’s Fair. (Young Kitty screams “We’re rich!” when the family gets a car in 1907.) Eventually, they seize the opportunity of opening a grocery, all as they face wrenching travails: natural disasters, mental and physical health issues, a rowdy brother’s temptations toward a life of crime, tragedies personal and public, and even a literal wicked stepmother.

“The blood pumping through the marvelous mechanical heart of this new world is Irish,” Kitty’s father notes, early on, and both Kitty and Price’s love for this family, their lineage, and their era shines through a novel that at times emphasizes thoroughness over narrative momentum. But readers fascinated by Irish-American immigrant life will relish the telling as Kitty—whose people tilt between Mass and respectability on the one hand and Egan’s Rats and after-hour lid clubs on the other—perseveres toward a satisfyingly happy ending. The book is an act of love.

Takeaway: This historical novel, an act of love, digs into an extraordinary Irish-American woman’s life and family.

Great for fans of: Kerby Miller and Patricia Mulholland Miller’s Journey of Hope: The Story of Irish Immigration to America, Pamela Records’ Tied With Twine.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Print Date: 10/03/2022


Books from Mad in Pursuit and Susan Barrett Price: KITTY'S PEOPLE: the Irish Family Saga about the Rise of a Generous Woman (2022)| HEADLONG: Over the Edge in Pakistan and China (2018) | THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) | TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) | PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008)