This is a wonderful story unfolding in Ireland between the late nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century. It is the story of two very different families: that of Hannah, May and Eleanor, sisters born to an ambitious upper-middle class family trying with every means to "better" itself, and that of Mary and Cecilia, sisters too, but very poor and orphaned too early, striving to stay alive. What is common to them all - and unites them in the end - is the historical setting, with the social unrest which, however, they live in quite different ways, and, ultimately, their strong desire for "another kind of life", something different from the frustrating existence of their parents. Both the rich and the poor girls find the lives destiny has prepared for them unbearable, and hope to change them. But only those of them who are determined to fight and work hard to achieve their goals will succeed.
As the story unfolds all the characters' points of view are presented, giving facts a rainbow of different shades, a choir of voices, thoughts and feelings. And as years go by in the novel, you clearly see the little girls and their relationships grow up and evolve, you clearly feel their feelings and understand the reasons behind their choices. The book is very weel written, passionating, almost impossible to put down.