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Publisher's Summary

Downton Abbey meets Gangs of New York…a gem of a novel to be inhaled in one gulp” (Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author) about a devoted maid whose secretive world is about to be ripped apart at the seams - a lush and evocative debut set in 19th-century New York that’s perfect for fans of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith and Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin.

By day, Mary Ballard is dutiful lady’s maid to Charlotte Walden, a wealthy and accomplished belle of New York City high society. But Charlotte would never trust Mary again if she knew the truth about her devoted servant’s past.

On her nights off, Mary sheds her persona as prim and proper lady’s maid to reveal her true self - Irish exile Maire O’Farren. She finds release from her frustration in New York’s gritty underworld - in the arms of a prostitute and as drinking companion to a decidedly motley crew consisting of members of a dangerous secret society.

Meanwhile, Charlotte has a secret of her own - she’s having an affair with a stable groom, unaware that her lover is actually Mary’s own brother. When the truth of both women’s double lives begins to unravel, Mary is left to face the consequences. Forced to choose between loyalty to her brother and loyalty to Charlotte, between society’s respect and true freedom, Mary finally learns that her fate lies in her hands alone.

A captivating historical fiction of 19th century upstairs/downstairs New York City, The Parting Glass examines sexuality, race, and social class in ways that feel startlingly familiar and timely. A perfectly paced, romantically charged “story of the sumptuous world of the privileged and the precarious, difficult environs of the immigrant working poor is highlighted by vibrant characters and a well-paced plot, which will pull readers into the tangled tale” (Publishers Weekly). 

©2019 Gina Marie Guadagnino (P)2019 Simon & Schuster
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

What listeners say about The Parting Glass

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Brilliant

Amazing writing and incredible research. The narrator was simply amazing. I cannot say enough about how well written this book is. I of course want the story to continue and to see if happiness for Mary was ever reached. I cannot wait to listen to your next piece of work.

1 person found this helpful

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"The Parting Glass"

From the age of 3, I was a pretty precocious reader, so at the age of 9, my mother gave me a copy of "Gone With The Wind", her favorite book, which I proceeded to devour like candy. Yes, even as a young VA girl, I knew that slavery was evil, but what fascinated me was the undertone of feminism & Margaret Mitchell's ability to animate history into a character in & of itself. To this day, Scarlett O'Hara is a personal icon of mine & GWTW is the "Great American Novel" by which I judge all others. (The movie, although impressive, is little more than a superficial survey of the relatively meaningless "high points" of the book in the grand scheme of things). Over the yrs- & I'm 66 now- I've reread it several times, & each time I have wondered how a mere human could crank out such a marvel of the written word & historical research on a primitive typewriter. Like it or not, the antebellum South is a fact of, albeit also a blight on, American history, & this novel shouldn't be removed from library shelves for PC reasons bc it explains the warped mindset of those who supported such an atrocious practice better than any book that will ever be penned by a historian or political scientist. Plus, MM was just an amazingly talented creative writer.


What does GWTW have to do w/ "The Parting Glass"? AFAIC, everything. The amt of historical research that enabled the writing of this book is mind-boggling. And like Scarlett O'Hara, Mary Ballard is a complicated character, a mixed bag of emotions & intentions, who largely reveals her true self between the lines of her observations of the world around her. (At this point, I cannot praise vocal actress Cassandra Campbell's stellar performance of this book enough; after listening to the book twice back-to-back, her voice has replaced much of my own normal inner voice, lol). To cut to chase, I collect books, mostly for their value as antiques, but I also have to own the actual pages of works that make a measurable impact on me personally, so to that end, I have also bought a hardcover copy of "The Parting Glass" to add to my library. What more can I say? I have loved every minute that I have spent w/ this book. To me, it's the GWTW of the experience of 19th century immigrants in NYC. And to think that I only selected it bc it seemed to be something vaguely queer that might keep me company while doing yardwork, etc.

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loved it!

A perfect tale of unrequited love. The main character is someone I can relate to alone with her struggles being queer in a noun queer world.

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Fantastic!

This book was so well-written and deeply researched. I loved it. The narrator was perfect. I could go on, but I think "Mia"s review covered everything I would say. I hope the author will write a sequel. I want to enter that world again and continue to follow the character's story.

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