Alice SimpsonNov 21, 2023
The Winthrop Agreement
Harper Paperbacks 2023
Rivkah Milman is just one of the thousands of young women who fled their homes in Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth century, looking for better prospects in New York—where the streets, people said, would be paved with gold. In Rivkah’s case, she is sixteen and pregnant, sailing to join her husband, who doesn’t even bother to meet her at the docks.
Rivkah struggles, raising her daughter in a tenement and keeping that shoddy roof over their heads through endless hours of sewing piecework for a sweatshop. But tough as Rivkah’s life is, this is really the story of her daughter, Miriam, who through a colossal but familiar misjudgment falls under the spell of Frederick Winthrop, a rich and immoral playboy who seeks out underage girls. But with help from a family friend, Mimi succeeds in separating herself from her difficult childhood in pursuit of a better life.
Miriam, who adopts the name Mimi to signal her break with the past, has always longed to become not just a seamstress but an haute couture designer. And with skill and determination, she makes progress. But the closer she comes to achieving her goals, the more contact she has with the wealthy Winthrop family. Alice Sherman Simpson keeps us on the edge of our seats as we wait to find out how these competing priorities will work themselves out.
Alice Sherman Simpson is the author of Ballroom. The Winthrop Agreement (Harper Paperbacks, 2023) is her second novel.
C. P. Lesley is the author of two historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible and four other novels. Her latest book, The Merchant’s Tale, co-written with P.K. Adams, appeared in November 2023.