From the first page of this book the reader will be captured by the depth that the Authress goes into by designing her main characters Alice and Ia. From the pomp and circumstance of the wealthy circles of the rich to the squalor and stench of the poor, the authress makes you familiar from the outset with the lifestyle of the families involved until you feel that you are actually a part of their lives. You can almost smell the sea of Gwenfer and the stench of the squalor of the New York tenements. Your stomatch gradually feels the pangs of hunger these two have to endure through their various misfortunes and just as fast you come to terms with the sense of serenity and calm that they also experience. You quickly learn to realize that Alice and Ia's lives are separated only by chance and that the rich and poor aspects of life are with them constantly. You get to know the characters so well you almost feel that you are able to tell them the advantages and/or disadvantages of the situations that will be encountered by them throughout the book. I thoroughly recommend this book - I was dying to finish it but did not want it to end!