It's 1911 and Annie Wood, a nineteen year old house maid from England has dreams of moving up in life. And she is sure it will be her talent with a needle and thread that will lift her out of her lowly servant status. A trip to New York with the wealthy Kidd family is eye-opening in many ways. She is awed by the Statue of Liberty and the crowded city, but several small incidents with the lady's maids of Mrs. Kidd and her adult daughter make Annie realize that the Kidds do not know she has been the one doing the exquisite alterations on their many gowns. That knowledge helps her see that her current position is a dead end. After a trip to the famed store Macy's, Annie decides that she will leave behind her past and attempt a future in America. Going with her are Danny and Iris, two young house servants from the Friesens, the American friends of the Kidds.
Moser did a commendable job of recreating New York life in 1911; we see the working class of a neighborhood bakery, the small, but comfortable life of a widow working at Macy's, and the appeal of the largest retail store in America -- all through Annie's eyes as she secures a job at Macy's and begins a new life. Despite all that the future seems to promise, Annie can not shake the past when Grasston, a disgruntled butler from the Friesen estate who blames her for his dismal, begins to stalk her. I enjoyed reading all about life in this time period, and I was drawn to the book because of the connections to sewing, especially the design elements of the pattern industry. However, I thought the pace of Annie's rise in status was not realistic. Within a matter of days, she gets a job at Macy's, gets noticed for her talent, and is offered a better job. And then the same happens again, almost immediately. If those things had happened, say, over a year's time, it would have been much more believable. Annie's determination and entrepreneurship certainly rang true; I believe thousands of women made better lives for themselves during this time period and it took Annie's kind of drive to make that happen. While I had problems accepting the short time frame for the entire book, I did enjoy the story, the characters, and the look inside both Macy's and Butterick. I hope Nancy Moser continues to find interesting aspects of our pasts and brings them to life through hopeful stories. I
obtained a copy of this book through my library system.