Illinois, 1874: With a birthmark covering half her face, thirteen-year-old Madelyn Branch is accustomed to cold and awkward greetings, and expects no less in the struggling town of Reliance. After all, her mother, Rebecca, was careful not to mention a daughter in the Matrimonial Times ad that brought them there. When Rebecca weds, Madely...
Illinois, 1874: With a birthmark covering half her face, thirteen-year-old Madelyn Branch is accustomed to cold and awkward greetings, and expects no less in the struggling town of Reliance. After all, her mother, Rebecca, was careful not to mention a daughter in the Matrimonial Times ad that brought them there. When Rebecca weds, Madelyn poses as her mother’s younger sister and earns a grudging berth in her new house. Deeply injured by her mother’s deceptions, Madelyn soon leaves to enter the service of Miss Rose Werner, prodigal daughter of the town’s founder. Miss Rose is a suffragette and purveyor of black market birth control who sees in Madelyn a project and potential acolyte. Madelyn, though, wants to feel beautiful and loved, and she pins her hopes on William Stark, a young photographer and haunted Civil War veteran.
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“Reliance, Illinois has it all—mystery, politics, war; love, death, and art. In finely wrought sentences, Volmer's novel follows such a lively cast of characters, first and foremost her marvelous protagonist Madelyn. Every page is a pleasure.”
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
“In Reliance, Illinois, Mary Volmer creates a world at once old and new. She evokes an entire time and place through the perfect application of richly enlivening historical detail. In her depiction of the varied and often risky recourses her characters adopt in order to live well or with dignity—or at all, Volmer tells a compelling, timeless story about exigency and survival, especially for women. A deftly written page-turner that addresses universal questions with open-heartedness and verve, Reliance, Illinois, offers a captivating read about an important juncture in American history.”
—Naomi J. Williams, author of Landfalls
“Mary Volmer’s lush prose draws the reader into an intricately detailed world.”
–Lois Leveen, author of Juliet’s Nurse and The Secrets of Mary Bowser
“"Mary Volmer’s Reliance, Illinois grabbed me from the first page. Staggeringly beautiful prose, a poignant story, the whip smart heroine Maddy who I rooted for all the way. Volmer brings a universal theme of the reliance—all of us who search for it—to be found in ourselves. Do yourself a favor, clear your schedule and drink in Volmer’s radiant Reliance, Illinois." ”
—Cara Black, New York Times bestselling author of Murder on the Quai
“A genuine pleasure. Reliance, Illinois is lively, witty, and evocative, with characters who pop off the page and a protagonist you'll never forget.”