The Story of Chicago May Author:Nuala O'Faolain Nuala O'Faolain, the author of three consecutive New York Times bestsellers, who achieved international fame with the remarkably candid appraisal of her own unorthodox life, here takes as her subject another daughter of Ireland - this one an outlaw and an unrepentant, independant woman. — The legend says that May was a tall girl with red-gold hai... more »r and big blue eyes, compellingly attractive to men. At nineteen, she stole her family's savings and ran away from her home in rural Ireland to America- first to Nebraska, then to Chicago at the time of the 1893 World's Fair, and then on to the rip-roaring Tenderloin district of New York. In these American cities, she worked as a confidence trickster, a thief, a showgirl and, when times were bad, as a prostitute, notorious as much for her violence as for her diamond rings.
But the woman the tabloids called "The Queen of the Underworld" met her nemesis in a handsome, dangerous Irish-American burglar named Eddie Guerin. She was with him in Paris in 1901 when his gang robbed the American Express office, and when the others were caught, she got away- with the money. But May went back to Paris to help him and was arrested and tried with him. She was sentenced to five years in jail in France. He was sent to Devil's Island for life.
O'Faolain brings a sympathetic scrutiny to this extraordinary life story, reaching across the decades for points of connection and understanding. May was born post-famine Ireland and died in the world of telephones, sports cars and movies in 1929, just before the stock market crash. Is there a woman's experience they can share? An Irish Woman's experience? An outsider's? In the hands of one of our most astute and gifted memoirists, The Story of Chicago May is not only a tale well told, but an inquiry into the telling of any life story.« less