Culture & Criticism Since 2003
Historical fiction is both a tough sell and an extremely difficult genre to explore via the confines of a debut novel. Nonetheless, Gina Marie Guadagnino has done an admirable job in creating a richly detailed book that brings 19th-century New York City roaring to life. The Parting Glass focuses on a love triangle between two immigrant siblings and heiress Charlotte Walden. That’s the basic foundation of the story. But the real point of the book is to force us to look back at the era, examining how the sexual mores and class consciousness of those times restricted so many random lives. For that reason alone, The Parting Glass is worth a chance; however, when you view Guadagnino’s novel against today’s reflection, it becomes truly relevant. For even though hundreds of years have gone by since the days depicted in The Parting Glass, one look around says nothing has changed in terms of how we treat each other.