The critically acclaimed author of The Glass Woman and The Metal Heart reimagines the shocking story of one of the most controversial contests in history, the Great Stork Derby, in which a millionaire's death spawns a furious competition for his inheritance.
Toronto, 1926. Knowing that he will die without an heir, childless millionaire Charles Millar leaves behind a controversial will: the recipient of his fortune will be decided in a contest that will become a media sensation and be known as the Great Stork Derby. His money will go to the winner: the woman who bears the most children in the ten years after his death. It is a bequest that will have dramatic consequences for the lives of two women--allies and close friends.
Lily di Marco is young, pregnant, and terrified of her alcoholic, violent husband. When her town is damaged by an earthquake, she flees to Toronto, arriving, by chance, on the doorstep of the glamourous Mae Thebault.
While Mae presents an elegant, confident face to the world, she secretly struggles with her own tortured past and a present consumed with the never-ending burdens of motherhood. Lily enters her life at a breaking point, and soon a fierce friendship blossoms between the women. That is until the Great Depression and the contest, with its alluring prize, threatens to tear their friendship--and their lives--apart.
Prize Women is an evocative and engrossing novel of motherhood, survival, and the heartbreaking decisions we make to protect the ones we love--even when it hurts those we care for most.
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About the Author
Caroline Lea was born and raised in Jersey in the United Kingdom. The Glass Woman is her second novel. She lives in Warwick, England.
"Prize Women is a serious, thoughtful and epic journey into the trials of motherhood. . . .With her contrasting female characters, Lea interrogates the fight for female agency across class divides, a struggle that continues to this day. A fascinating snapshot of another time, perhaps not as far removed from our own as we might hope."
-- Janice Hallett, bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code
"Masterful. Caroline Lea is a superb storyteller, and Prize Women deserves a huge readership. So good, I had to pull myself away."
-- Elizabeth Macneal, bestselling author of The Doll Factory and Circus of Wonders
"The story of true innocents caught up in the machinery of war. Exquisitely researched, beautifully told, this tiny corner of Scotland came alive for me in all of my senses and I found myself rooting for the central characters with all my heart." -- Mary Beth Keane, author of Ask Again, Yes on The Metal Heart
"Atmospheric, heart-wrenching, evocative--this is a gorgeously written story about the scars we carry with us, and how they can be overcome."
-- Gytha Lodge, author of Watching from the Dark and She Lies in Wait on The Metal Heart
"Gripped me in a cold fist. Beautiful."
-- Sara Collins, author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton on The Glass Woman
"Piercing.... Devastating and revelatory." -- New York Times Book Review on The Metal Heart
"A fantastic, atmospheric debut." -- Times, London on The Metal Heart
"Memorable and compelling. A novel about what haunts us--and what should." -- Sarah Moss, author of Ghost Wall on The Metal Heart
"Lea crafts deeply intriguing characters while bringing to life their harsh landscape. Full of emotion, mystery, and suspense, this unique love story will keep readers guessing until the very end." -- Booklist on The Metal Heart
"Lovely prose and the lulling feel of escape into another time... will satisfy readers who wish to be submerged in the ways of an old world." -- Publishers Weekly on The Metal Heart
"Gorgeous. Prize Women - with its powerful, important message about women's choices, freedom and motherhood - took my breath away. I haven't stopped thinking about it."
-- Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne