15 October 2019
A Harsh and Private Beauty, is about the life and loves of Ruby Grace, now in her 89th year, on a train journey with her granddaughter back to Chicago, the city of her birth. When the book opens, Ruby is living in a retirement care home, but as a young woman, she was a jazz and blues singer, once trained for a career in opera. The novel traces Ruby's grandparent's immigration from Ireland to New York City, her father, Daniel Kenny's life in 1920s Chicago -- the era of gangsters, nightclubs, rum-running and Prohibition -- and Ruby's subsequent life in Montreal and Toronto. Headstrong and talented, Ruby struggled with the conventions of the times, was trapped in a marriage that forced her to give up her singing career, and in love with another man who shares her passion for music. Now, on the train headed back to a city she cannot remember, to a daughter she hardly knows, Ruby tries to look honestly at herself and the choices she has made, choices that affected not only her children, but her grandchildren. Ruby has a stroke on route, leaving the disconnected story of her life and love in the hands of her granddaughter, Lisa, who must reveal a secret to her father, Ruby's son, that her grandmother guarded all her life.--$cProvided by publisher.