The Hatmaker

The Irish Milliner - Cynthia G. Neale

The Irish Milliner is a historical story about a young widow, before and during the Civil War ,who makes hats. She starts out making hats of various designs to see to make a little bit of cash so she can support her daughter and hopes to get her hats into the department stores in New York. 

The Irish Milliner is a vivid depiction of the war, slavery, the Underground Railroad. Norah is also a reporter, which is rare for a woman in this era. Norah escaped the famine in Ireland and is determined to make a life for herself in the late 1800's in the Five Points neighborhood in New York.

Life for a woman in this era had to have been difficult, a woman's role was to stay home and take care of the house and children. Norah is not so lucky being a widow but she is very creative and makes her way in a tough time. She has a variety of friends, a young man who comes from wealth and influence who is courting her, there is also another young man, a friend from Ireland, who is also after her affections. She is also a friend with a black woman, who introduces Norah to the world of the underground railroad.

I enjoyed the story, the historical aspect appeared to be well researched and told in vivid detail. I had not read the previous stories and it probably would have helped set up the characters in this book. Aside from that, I recommend this story if you like Civil War history.