Our Kind of People: A Novel
Published on December 05, 2022
Reviewed by Marybeth Ginsberg
Helen comes from money and her marriage to Joshua, a former stable boy, has kept her from out of New York’s most elite social circles. Yet, Helen loves Joshua and has spent years “smoothing a path” between her socially awkward husband and her overbearing mother, Selina Maitland. Helen has good reason to fear that her husband Joshua may lead them to ruin, and she knows that the greatest risk may be to her daughters, Jemima and Alice.
Things take a turn for the worse when Joshua fails to pay back a loan borrowed to fund a potentially lucrative business deal. Suddenly, the family is cast into dire circumstances and must face ridicule from the most elite members of New York society. Rumors fly and Helen’s family must grapple with the fallout that affects every aspect of their lives. Much to their chagrin, the family must appeal to Helen’s mean-spirited, mother, a matriarch whose life is entrenched in the old system of social conduct.
Risk and reward are at stake in this nineteenth-century novel of manners. Will the dream of the elevated railroad become a reality? Times are changing and “new people with new money” have a strong desire to belong. Helen and Joshua are no exception. When faced with adversity, Jemima and Alice adjust to their new circumstances and eventually grow to become more independent young women. As the plot unfolds, Wallace does an fine job bringing out the best and the worst in her characters. Historical facts give shape to the novel and help us to appreciate the passage of time and the impact of war and economic downturn. Predictably unpredictable, Our Kind of People, will keep fans of historical fiction turning the pages.
Carol Wallace is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestseller To Marry and English Lord, the inspiration for Downton Abbey. Her newest novel, Our Kind of People includes a discussion guide as well as an insightful interview with the author.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐