These Shallow Graves: My Review


Reading gives me the opportunity to dive into a different world, with characters of all kinds, and amazing storylines to follow. I can spend hours reading a book, and be quite content. I genuinely find reading to be one of the best activities I could do.

Natalya Larez, Cougar Tales Editor


These Shallow Graves, written by Jennifer Donnely, is easily my favorite read. In a compelling murder-romance mystery, Josephine Montfort learns a shocking truth about her family while falling in love with a cheap reporter named Eddie Galagher. This book truly is difficult to put down, and as the plot thickens, it gets even harder to take a break. Part of the reason, I could say, is the author. She has a way with her words, and it can leave an audience hooked by the 2nd sentence. Another reason is simply the flow of the book. It is so smooth, and the mysteries unfold in compelling ways. Twists and turns are everywhere, all to reveal the truth you never would have imagined.

Based in the 1890s, a young girl – 17 years of age – was growing up in one of the wealthiest families in New York. Josephine Montfort is rich, beautiful, and is ”ready to breed”, as her grandmother would say. She dreams of being a reporter, traveling the world, and writing important stories for her community. She is promised to a man she does not love, Bram Aldrich, for a life she does not long for. Before tragedy strikes, however, she sees no other option. One day, while at school, she is called into the headmaster’s office to receive terrible news: her father is dead. Supposedly, he shot himself in the head late the night before. This doesn’t seem like her father, but she was too stunned to mention anything. All she could think was, is it possible he was murdered? Suicide doesn’t seem like something he would ever contemplate, let alone act upon. She became determined to unlock the truth no matter what.

Even looking at the historical details in the book, it is so descriptive. How buildings are described, even simple objects, really makes you feel as though you are. Small details aren’t forgotten. You can imagine you were in New York during that time period, and really get involved with the book. It’s clear that Donelly spent a great deal of time researching Old New York, and it shows in the quality of her work.

Anyone who reads will be rooting for Jo and Eddie Galagher, a reporter she meets on the way to finding the truth. It’s a forbidden love, why would the beautiful young lady from the wealthiest family in New York marry a measly reporter? It simply could not be fathomed. She was to marry Bram and help grow both families’ companies. However, despite everything, all she wanted was Eddie. She wanted a simple life full of love, one where she could follow her heart, then live in a dull marriage full of material objects, never worrying about money. Jo and Eddie both have flaws, but they complimented each other’s strengths.

Another thing that I loved about this novel was how the novel discussed gender equality and how life used to be for women. It depicts how women of different classes often had no opportunities and just fell in line with how everyone expected them to act. Jo’s grandmother, for example, often repeated phrases such as, “Fine set of hips on that girl too. She’ll breed as easily as an Ayrshire heifer.” Another interesting element is the friendship between Jo and Fay, a pickpocket who is abused by her cruel master. Both are being forced into unhappy situations, Jo into an unwanted marriage and Fay into prostitution, yet their friendship transcends this. The affection they feel for each other is much more than just sympathy for each other’s suffering.

This novel truly is an amazing read and something I could recommend to anyone. Readers will be emersed in the book, and the end truly is shocking. How the story comes together is simply artistic, although it comes with a tragic ending.