“A biography with narrative muscle and thrilling historical relevance.” –Kirkus Reviews
Legend says that May Duignan was tall with red-gold hair and big blue eyes, and that she was compellingly attractive to men. At 19, she stole her family’s savings and ran away from home in rural Ireland to America, where she worked as a confidence trickster, a thief, a showgirl, and a prostitute, notorious as much for her violence as for her diamond rings. The tabloids dubbed her “The Queen of the Underworld.” Reaching across decades for points of connection, Nuala O’Faolain, the bestselling author of Almost There and My Dream of You, brings sympathetic scrutiny to the understanding of an outlaw experience like no other.
One of nine children born into a penniless north Dublin family, Nuala O’Faolain was saved from a harrowing childhood by her love of books and reading. Though she ultimately became one of Ireland’s best-known columnists, her professional success did little… More about Nuala O’Faolain
“An absorbing look at an old-time, independent, free-spirited crook. . . . What makes The Story of Chicago May so compelling is the earnestness (and finely detailed writing) with which O’Faolain searches for authentic May in a story easy to mythologize. . . . Meeting her is a tonic experience.”—Chicago Tribune “Chicago May is a masterpiece, and I’ll say it again. [A] most original, compassionate, perceptive, and deeply personal exploration of the amazing life story of the self-proclaimed Queen of Crooks, May Duignan. And it had me spellbound.”—Daily Mail (London) “O’Faolain, mistress of the memoir, meets her match in fellow Irishwoman Chicago May, feisty turn-of-the-century feminist and queen of the crooks. . . . She manages to weave the destiny of an entire people into the flight of auburn-haired, buxom nineteen-year-old May.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)