A historical saga of one strong woman’s journey from poverty and servitude in New York City to a new life in turn-of-the-century San Francisco.
At ten, Lily Malone watched her mother die in their shabby apartment on Mulberry Street. Ma’s last wish was for Lily to keep an eye on her wild, rebellious brother—but after the two children move into the Catholic orphanage, she’s helpless to stop Fergy from abandoning her and heading out west to find gold in California.
With the last of her family gone, Lily has little choice but to eventually accept a position in another family’s household. They’re Irish like her, but far wealthier—and it is here that the innocent girl begins to understand that she has little to bargain with aside from her beauty. This is the story of a young woman fighting her way out of hardship, as she learns to sell her body at an elegant brothel; becomes a mother desperately trying to keep the truth from her daughter; and finally is forced by love to return to the city of her shame and seek to conquer it.
Moving from tenement squalor to the Fifth Avenue splendor of old New York, from the rolling decks of a great clipper ship to the brawling streets and magnificent Nob Hill mansions of San Francisco, through storm and earthquake and fire, Lily Cigar is a breathless saga of love, intrigue, and illicit passion.