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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Historical
  • Language:English
  • Pages:350
  • Format:Paperback
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098307592

Secrets In The Smoke

by Linda Stefko

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"Secrets in the Smoke" is a novel set in Pittsburgh beginning in 1890 as young Jack Quinn, son of Irish immigrants, mourns the death of his mother and is forced to labor in the steel mill at the age of ten. Finding solace in the gardens of the wealthy, Jack is determined to escape the smoke and grime of his neighborhood. As a young man he devises a plan to rise above the "limited existence" of his family and girlfriend Clare. He develops a taste for whiskey and women, using his good looks and charm to further his goals. Jack pursues his dreams with Emma, an independent woman from a better neighborhood. As Jack deals with inner turmoil, Emma struggles with raising children and facing circumstances triggered by the Great War, Prohibition, and Jack's philandering. Jack succumbs to his weaknesses ending back in the arms of his long-lost sweetheart Clare. Secrets are buried as Jack's heart remains divided. The 1920's present new challenges for Emma; and can Jack become a better man?
Who is Jack Quinn? The young man with a wild heart grieving for his dead mother. His father teaches him how to survive as a child laboring in the steel mill. He learns to fist-fight and drink hard, growing up to become a whiskey-loving Irish charmer. Angry at God and forsaking his religion, he is excited by the nightlife of brothels and bars. Or he is the man with a contrite heart, filled with remorse. A hard-working husband and father tortured by guilt, seeking redemption, attempting to live his dream with strong and forgiving Emma. Or Jack is the discontented man with the cheating heart. The adulterer who rekindles romance and hides secrets with his first love, the long-suffering Clare. The saga follows several families in Pittsburgh from 1890 through 1930, and how their lives become intertwined. The family members are affected by the social ills of the Industrial Age from alcoholism to child labor and mental health issues. Jack, Emma, and Clare face personal tragedies, moral and religious dilemmas involving choices and secrets. Their lives are influenced by the Great War, Prohibition, women's rights issues, and the prosperous and tumultuous years of the 1920's. This novel examines family relationships that exist between fathers and sons, siblings, mothers and daughters, marital partners, and lovers. Choices made and secrets kept can have long lasting effects on children and future generations.
About the author

Linda Stefko, a retired elementary school teacher, spends time reading, writing, painting, and exploring a lifelong interest in family genealogy and the history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she grew up in the suburb of Crafton. For the past thirty years, she has resided in the Canonsburg area of southwestern Pennsylvania, where she raised her children. She enjoys spending time with them and her seven precious grandchildren, as well as extended family and friends. After the death of her husband she focused on publishing her first novel, Secrets in the Smoke. 

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