In her debut, Irene offers a nostalgic story set in 1940, about neighbors finding love in New York City.
Lillian Hapsey is a 35-year-old widow raising two young sons in Manhattan. They are trying to adjust to their new neighborhood, which is easier said than done—especially for the boys, who want to go back to their old home in Brooklyn. Despite Lillian’s artistic aspirations, she works as a telephone operator at a publishing house where she fends off the inappropriate advances of its owner. In her new building, she notices neighbor Charles Drooms. He’s only 10 years older than Lillian, but his grumpy attitude and withdrawn personality make him seem like a crotchety old-timer; children even sometimes call him “Old Man Drooms.” However, Lillian finds him attractive, apparently seeing in him what everyone else doesn’t. Meanwhile, Charles finds himself enchanted by the kindhearted Lillian, despite his best effort to ignore her by burying himself in work at his accounting firm. It turns out that he’s hiding a dark secret from his past, and although he believes that he’s better off alone, Lillian chips away at his rough exterior. As Christmas nears, Charles spends more time with Lillian and her sons. But an unfortunate incident stirs up Charles’ past and causes him to retreat, making Lillian wonder if their romance is over before it had a chance to blossom. Irene remarkably conveys Charles’ transformation from a guilt-ridden, bitter and sad Ebenezer Scrooge type to a more caring, loving man. Both he and Lillian will engage readers as they try to overcome inner struggles on their quests to find happiness. Readers will also enjoy the novel’s detailed imagery, which has a whimsical and pleasingly old-fashioned quality throughout.
A charming, heartwarming tale of two people looking for a second chance at love and family.