The Chainmakers
by Helen Spring
LitPrime Solutions

"Then he said simply, 'but it's not what you really wanted is it?'"

From the harsh, poor working conditions in Black Country to the equally hard but vibrant immigrant community in New York City, a fated day at the chain shop sets young Anna Gibson on a trajectory she never dreamed of. When a painter named Robert Nicholson asks Anna to be his model, she jumps at the chance to make some extra money for the family and escape the chain shop's drudgery. Yet their working relationship blossoms into something more, only for Anna's dreams to be quickly dashed by her new lover.

At the chance of starting over, Anna marries her previous love, Clancy Sullivan, and agrees to sail to America with him to try their luck. They land in New York, where Anna gets a job cleaning a bar while Clancy works in construction. A moment of opportunity allows the Sullivans to seize on a cooking gig, which turns into the makings of their own business. But as they grow in wealth and prosperity, Prohibition and some shady acquaintances could put everything they worked for at risk.

Set in the early 1900s, the author's rags-to-riches story is framed by Gibson's relationships, stressing the "chainlinks" that bind her to others. While Gibson eventually leaves the physical labor of the chain shop, there are still memories of her time before her passage to America that make building her relationship with Clancy difficult. The chains are more emotional now, impacting how Anna carries herself in this new world. But eventually, readers learn how Anna learns to cast off those metaphorical chains as well and make a new name and reputation for herself.

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