It’s 1835 in Utica, New York, and newlywed Helen Galway discovers a secret: two runaway slaves are hiding in the shack behind her husband’s house. Suddenly, she is at the center of not only the era’s greatest moral dilemma, but her own as well. Should she be a “good wife” and report the fugitives to her husband? Or will she defy convention and come to their aid.
Within her home, Helen is haunted by the previous Mrs. Galway, recently deceased but still an oppressive presence. Her husband, injured by a drunken tumble off his horse, is assisted by a doctor of questionable ambitions who keeps a close eye on Helen. In charge of all things domestic is Maggie—formerly enslaved by the Galway family and freed when emancipation came to New York eight years earlier.
At the same time, Utica is at the center of emancipation efforts as abolitionists arrive for the founding meeting of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society. Those who plead for an immediate end
to enslavement are attacked by newspapers accusing them of being insurrectionists and traitors to the Constitution. Everyone faces dangerous choices as they navigate this intensely heated personal and political landscape.
A debut novel on Kaylie Jones Books imprint.
Deirdre Sinnott is an independent scholar, filmmaker, author, and social change activist. Currently, she is a historical consultant and researcher for the Ft. Stanwix Underground Railroad History Project, funded by the National Parks Service. And she is working on a non-fiction book about the American abolition movement and Underground Railroad centered in her native Utica, New York. She also speaks about the lingering effects of racial injustice on society.
Sinnott has given talks at historical societies, national and regional history conferences, the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum’s program Resisting the New Jim Crow, colleges and universities, and Utica’s Abolition History Day Celebration. Additionally, she has spoken at Otisville Correctional Facility as part of the African American Organization’s Black History Month series.
Her writing has appeared in numerous places including The New York History Blog, the Utica Observer Dispatch, ForeWord Magazine, Hippocampus Magazine and the Catskill Review of Books. Her essay Right-sized Rats was nominated for a Pushcart Award by Hippocampus Magazine and appeared in the publication’s anthology titled Selected Memories.
Sinnott, who has a background in theatre, has directed two award-winning documentaries on social justice and mass incarceration issues, 23 Reasons Why 23 Years is Enough: Clemency for Pascual Carpenter and Multiple Injuries.
Sinnott attended Syracuse University where she earned a BFA in Acting/Directing from the school’s prestigious theatre program. She lives in New York City’s East Village and loves the Catskill Mountains.