||August 31, 2010
Barnes & Noble.com
Valerie Joan connors
Twenty-three year old Eva Larkin takes on the city of New York as a divorced, single mother with dreams of becoming a writer. In 1953, a woman's place was in the home. However, in Eva's case, her home had been a very dangerous place.
When a young mother realizes that her marriage is both intolerable and dangerous, she must find the courage to leave her abusive alcoholic husband, make a new life for herself, and a better future for her child. Give Me Liberty is the story of one woman’s struggle to make it on her own in the largest city in America, surrounded by strangers, at a time when divorce was neither common, nor easily obtained. It’s an empowering story about hope, strong women, and the way things used to be.
In 1953, having left her hometown in Upper Michigan, twenty-four-year-old Eva Larkin and her three-year-old son Daniel embark upon an adventure that will reshape their lives. Two suitcases, one large and one small, are all they take with them when they board the train to New York City. With shorthand and typing skills but no actual work experience, Eva sets out to find an apartment, a job, and a whole new life. Her inner strength and determination are tested many times as she struggles to pursue a future she once dreamed about but had come to believe was out of her reach. Eva always wanted a career as a writer, but her unexpected pregnancy and subsequent marriage changed all that. Now she has a second chance to fulfill her dream, but discovers that leaving the past behind isn’t always easy, especially with an ex-husband who is driven by violence and rage.
One Woman's Pursuit of Freedom
Give Me Liberty is the debut novel of author Valerie Joan Connors. It is the story of a young woman who escapes an abusive marriage to build the life she dreamed of as a child. Connors’ story is a testament to the strength and tenacity of women.
Set in the late forties and early fifties, Connors paints a picture of women from this time period that goes far beyond the loyal housewife who lives solely for the benefit of her family. Eva Larkin is one of these women. As a young girl, her dream is to become a writer living in New York City.
Eva’s path to achieving her dream is not as straight and narrow as she envisioned it would be. She meets Leo Maguire when she is seventeen. He is twenty-three, just home from the war and working at a local bar. Their love affair is nearly two years old when Eva becomes pregnant. Her dreams are sidetracked by marriage and motherhood. They appear to be completely out of reach when the violence begins. Sober, Leo is a loving father and dedicated husband. But when he drinks, Leo becomes emotionally and physically abusive. Eva endures years of violence at the hand of her husband. One vicious, public attack causes the most physical damage Eva has sustained as a battered wife. It also leads to a decision that changes her life forever.
With her parents support, Eva leaves her marriage and her beloved home town to take a chance at capturing her dreams in New York City. As a single mother in the fifties, Eva manages her life with all the difficulties modern single mothers endure, but without many of the protections that the women’s movement eventually provides.
Connors has written a book that held me captive for three days. And the only reason it took me that long to complete it is because I could not press the pause button on my life. She writes with honesty about the horrors of domestic violence and the limited legal protections afforded to women during the early fifties. Connors also shows the reader that every woman, regardless of her background, is vulnerable to this type of violence: Eva came from a strong, loving family and had never known any real pain until after she married. The author’s depiction of Leo as the abusive husband was spot on in terms of portraying him as an insecure bully who believes he can dominate his wife simply because he is bigger than her. But she also allows the reader to see that his anger and pain developed as a result of his own mental and physical abuse at the hands of his parents. This makes Leo a human figure; not completely demonized. It is this balance that makes for an antagonist that can be realistically placed next to a powerful protagonist and create a believable story that readers can relate to personally. The author has packed into this story lessons of self-love, personal growth and forgiveness.
Give Me Liberty is an amazing first effort by a new writer who has proven herself capable of entertaining, educating and inspiring her audience. I highly recommend it.
Melissa Brown Levine
Independent Professional Book Reviewers
A Moving Tale of One Woman's Pursuit of Personal Freedom
Give Me Liberty
Valerie Joan Connors
Reviewed By Karynda Lewis
Official Apex Reviews Rating:
Eva Larkin’s lifelong dream is to become a writer – but that dream is put on
indefinite hold when an unexpected pregnancy and marriage thrust her into
motherhood. Further complicating her life: her husband’s intolerable alcoholism,
which ultimately forces her to relocate with her three-year-old son to New York, in
the hopes of making a fresh start; however, Eva soon realizes that no matter how
hard you try to run from your past, it always seems to have a way of catching up
Set in the 1950’s, Give Me Liberty is a moving tale of one woman’s
struggle for personal freedom. In Eva, author Valerie Joan Connors has crafted
quite the sympathetic protagonist, whose ongoing struggles are a microcosm of
the greater overall difficulties encountered by women of her generation. In an age
when divorce was both uncommon and nearly impossible to obtain, women like
Eva were subject to a host of living horrors, sanctioned by the legal and social
customs of the era. Through strength, perseverance, and unchecked resolve,
though, even the most life-threatening challenges can be overcome, and Connors
does a standout job of highlighting this fact through Eva’s dogged determination,
as well as her sheer will to live. A powerfully inspiring, highly recommended read.
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