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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning memoirist and New York Times best-selling author Nuala O'Faolain branches into new territory with her biography of the infamous Irish-American prostitute and thief Chicago May. O'Faolain uses May's autobiography, primary sources from the turn of the 19th century, and her own experience as an Irishwoman to bring May and all her heartache, deception, and violence to life.
©2005 Nuala O'Faolain; (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
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Critic Reviews

"The biographer makes herself a complement rather than an intrusion, and May emerges lively, unique, and cut from the cloth of Irish and American reinvention." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is not only a thorough portrait of a woman on the wrong path; it is also a fresh and informative view of turn-of-the-twentieth-century America, and fascinating testimony to the need to tell and preserve true stories from all walks of life." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 09-23-07

The Story of Chicago May (Unabridged)

I didn't care for the way the story is told. The author retraces May's life and at the same time, tells how her research was done and compares May's life experiences to her own. I would have preferred May's story being told by May.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Linda Lou on 09-24-08


This reads more like a middle school book report: "Grade=D". Nuala O'Faolain has a great subject matter but her storytelling shows that anyone can get a book deal these days. The book just goes downhill after the introduction. I couldn't get past the first 2 hours due to the confusing way that the story is told. The author spends more time speculating on what Chicago May MIGHT have been doing rather than relating her life in story mode with a bit of creativity and literary license. She keeps referring to Chicago May's autobiography written in 1928, which she alleges to be the inspiration for her own book. Yet O'Faolain writes as if this is HER life story, giving us HER personal feelings or describing in vivid detail points of interest in HER life. Who cares about the crows squawking outside O'Faolain's cottage or the fact that she has no female friends? In the meantime, we get no feel for the flashy May or timelines with respect to her life. Suddenly she's involved with this man who is either younger or older than May but we don't know how old May is at that point. We get no sense of the local color around her. Ireland, New York, Chicago, and everything in between begin to just meld together. This was a very hard read because I had to keep rewinding to listen to parts of the book during which I'd fallen into a mind-numbing sleep. In fact, after several "do-overs", I just decided to throw out my Ambien CR and use this book to fight my chronic insomnia! I think it will be worth paying for a roundtrip plane ticket from Atlanta to the NYC library just to read Chicago May's autobiography firsthand. Again boring us with HER life points, O'Faolain claims that she "sees restrospection as the one source of insight available to everyone". Allow me to bore you with one of MY points - in retrospect, I should never have purchased this book!

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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