(416 pages, Scholastic, 1999)
As I grew to know Sally better, and as she grew up, I realised that she’d naturally become interested in social questions of every kind. She is a modern woman. And one of the biggest issues of that time – the book is set in 1881 – was the great increase in Jewish migration, following the persecutions in Russia. So that forms the background: these shiploads of suffering, exploited people drifting westwards in the hope of a better life, and all the criminal gangs making money out of swindling them, and the politicians denouncing them – why, it could be taking place today. But Sally herself, and a mystery, is at the heart of the story. Sally has a little daughter, whose father is dead; but suddenly there appears another man who claims to be Sally’s estranged husband, and who seems to have all the evidence to prove it. Sally has never seen him before – but the law of the time allows him to gain custody of her child. And behind it all is the shadowy figure of the Tzaddik, who traffics in human misery … Sally has to take a terrible risk, and finds herself face to face with an old and deadly enemy.