My rating for 31 Bond Street – 4
“31 Bond Street” by Ellen Horan (website | Facebook) is a historical fiction novel taking place in 1857 New York City. The book follows the notorious trial of Emma Cunningham for the murder of her landlord Dr. Harvey Burdell, a famous dentist.
- 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper
- ISBN: 9780061773969
“31 Bond Street” by Ellen Horan is an enjoyable book which, for me, was hard to categorize. It is a bit historical fiction, a bit a mystery and a bit court room drama – I guess a legal mystery might fit the bill.
The story is actually based on an actual murder case from 1857 and several of the characters are people who actually lived and were involved. Yet several others are not – Ms. Horan makes it clear who’s who at the end of the book in the “Author’s Note” section (which I find as a big plus in any historical fiction book).
Dr. Harvey Burdell – The Victim
I quite enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, the class system n NYC and the “if it bleeds it dies” sensationalistic media. It is amazing how little has changed, even today the media can hang on a sensationalistic case, completely blowing it out of proportions and like good little lap dogs we eat it all up (the O.J. Simpson case for example).
The book juxtaposed between the investigation, court case and flashbacks to Emma’s relationship with Mr. Burdell where she was a “housemistress”, in today’s terms she’d be a live-in lover which didn’t get to much respect in the 1850s. There is some Upstairs/Downstairs (showing my age?) quality to how Emma talks and acts with Mr. Burdell’s servants and their defiance to take orders from her.
Emma Cunningham – The accused
The famous lawyer Mr. Clinton (No, not that one) was, for me, the main protagonist of the book. Mr. Clinton (Not that one either) was Mrs. Cunningham defense attorney and I had a fun time following his thought process (albeit fictional) about the trial and hist strategy.
The book is absorbing and the blend of fact and fiction is fascinating. While the fascinating characters are well drawn and the narrative is well written, the real star of the book is 1850’s New York City society. The rich doctor, poor widow, the black groom who is an abolitionist and knows he’s not safe in the north, the poor 11 year old boy who works to support his family, the way marriage are arranged even though one of the betrothed is disagreeable are all absorbing and … the status qua. Ms. Horan doesn’t try to shock us into thinking that pushing a 19 year old into an undesirable marriage is an unforgivable sin, quite the opposite – the sin is that she refuses the arrangement.
Emma Cunningham is a widow with two daughters who is lodging in 31 Bond Street, NYC – the residence of Dr. Harvey Burdell. One fine morning the household wakes up to the horrific news that the doctor has been murdered in his room – with no signs of forced entry.
The immediate suspicion falls on Mrs. Cunningham who has to be defended against an aggressive and corrupt district attorney who has big political ambitions and his minions. Attorney Henry Clinton (YES!!! That one) takes up the case of Mrs. Cunningham, but as everything in life, it is not clear cut.
- Contest is for one (1) new copy of “31 Bond Street”.
- There will be ONE (1) WINNER
- Must be a US / Canada mailing Address
- Ends Wednesday March 30, 2011
- Winners will be chosen using Random.org
- Winners will have 24 hours after my initial contact to write back their mailing address, otherwise alternate winners will be picked
TLC Book Tour for “31 Bond Street”:
Tuesday, March 1st: Bibliophiliac
Wednesday, March 2nd: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, March 3rd: The Lost Entwife
Wednesday, March 9th: Rundpinne
Monday, March 14th: We Be Reading
Tuesday, March 15th: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, March 16th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, March 17th: The Book Faery Reviews
Monday, March 21st: Book Reviews by Molly
Tuesday, March 22nd: Books Like Breathing
Wednesday, March 23rd: Eclectic/Eccentric
Thursday, March 24th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, March 29th: Redlady’s Reading Room
Zohar – Man of la Book
- Review: The Paris Wife (bookingmama.net)
- On the Street….Francesco Clemente, Bond Street, New York City (thesartorialist.blogspot.com)
- Building Wall Street Bonds (online.wsj.com)
Published at Book Reviews by Rick Sincere.
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