An Embarrassment of Riches

Margaret Pemberton

04 October 2012
514 pages


‘Here she is!’ Alexander was shouting. ‘This is your new daughter-in-law! An Irish peasant . . . An illegitimate . . . illiterate . . . Irish peasant!’

1860: Alexander Karolyis, only son of the wealthiest entrepreneur in New York, spends most of his adolescence battling within his father. Nothing he does is considered correct. The girl he loves is highly unsuitable, his behaviour is unruly, and, in a last-ditch attempt to marry him off to a suitable Protestant aristocrat, his father packs him off on a European Grand Tour.

And while Alexander was feuding with his father, beautiful Maura Sullivan, illegitimate daughter of an Irish peasant, was befriended and raised by Lord Clanmar on his idyllic Ballacharnish estate. Only when he died unexpectedly did Maura’s world crash about her ears. His will left her little option but to leave Ireland and start a new life in New York.

It was there, on the emigrant boat to America, that Maura and Alexander met for the first time – she in the poverty of the steerage section, he as a privileged first-class passenger. It was there that Maura fell overwhelmingly in love with the spoilt young aristocrat whose heart was full of hatred for his father. And it was only when it was too late that Maura realised she had been used as a weapon of revenge and must enter the world of New York society who had nothing but contempt for the new bride of the Karolyis family.