NOW, AMERIKY by Betty Sue Cummings


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Brigid Ni Clery's journey to Ameriky, financed by her starving family who will follow one by one as money is sent back, begins with a two-day walk to Dublin. She's prepared for cheats (she thinks), but between Dublin and her first domestic job on Fifth Avenue she is almost taken in by a succession of convincing rogues--one of whom, a sort of high-class pimp with designs on more than her money, does make a dishonest woman of another young girl when he starves the two of them to force their submission. But spirited Brigid remembers her promise to Padraic, who will follow when he can. In New York she resists the honorable attentions of a handsome, up-and-coming Irish-American, and does marry Patrick at last, though she knows by then that she is the stronger of the two. Like many historical heroines of contemporary fiction, Brigid has the attitudes and the indignation of a feminist of today subjected to 1840s conditions--but then why wouldn't she, with the priest dismissing the need for literacy in women and she the family's chief hope for survival? Stereotypes abound here--the shipboard Ulsterman who preys on young gifts shows up too often and too predictably; and in fact there's nothing here (unless it be Brigid's acknowledged sexuality, manifest in her solitary ""secret sin"" when she remembers Patrick) that would shake or enlarge the most conventional view of the Irish immigrant experience. Cummings, though, does a fine job of fleshing out and filling in the familiar picture--and of recreating the sort-of unflagging, principled survivor who helped make the American myth more than a dream.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum