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Rare Objects

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,414 ratings  ·  412 reviews
Maeve Fanning is a first generation Irish immigrant, born and raised among the poor, industrious Italian families of Boston’s North End by her widowed mother. Clever, capable, and as headstrong as her red hair suggests, she’s determined to better herself despite the overwhelming hardships of the Great Depression.

However, Maeve also has a dangerous fondness for strange men
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Harper (first published April 5th 2016)
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Amy I think in the end it didn't matter if he was made up. It was all about you become the story you tell, so that part fit right in. Ultimately, she,…moreI think in the end it didn't matter if he was made up. It was all about you become the story you tell, so that part fit right in. Ultimately, she, Maeve had to decide who she wanted to be, so its great that the father was a fantasy. She could truly self-create.(less)

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3.88  · 
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 ·  3,414 ratings  ·  412 reviews

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Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: four-star
A really enjoyable historical fiction novel set in the bustling diverse community of Boston in the 1930's. What I liked primarily about this novel is the author chose to feature her protagonist as someone who is, in a sense, completely ahead of her time. Straggling the line between social and cultural norms whilst trying to maintain some independence, I enjoyed May's reluctance to conform to what is expected of her. She is a flawed character trying to starve off the skeletons in her closet, but ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rare Objects is a historical fiction novel set in post depression Boston. The reader is introduced to two main characters: Maeve (May), a young Irish woman living at home who is frustrated and desperate with her station in life and Diana Van dear Laar, a deeply flawed, smart, rich young lady. Their lives become intertwined, resulting in a beautifully written, insightful, thought provoking novel.
Some favourite quotes to ponder:
"Sometimes, my dear, being broken is the most interesting thing that
Kelly Hager
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I absolutely adored this book. It's set in the 1930s (a great time for historical fiction, I think) and it's insanely well-written.

I had such a sense of unease while reading it. I didn't know what would go wrong, but I was sure that something horrible would happen to Mae or to Diana or to both. I loved the two of them so much that I was so afraid that things would go wrong for them. And in the 1930s, there are so many ways that things could go wrong for women (especially single women).

I don't
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was my Christmas-doesn't-exist escape book. Having worked in fashion / retail for so many years in my earlier days, Christmas and I just don't get along. However, Kathleen Tessaro's mesmerizing RARE OBJECTS was just the first-class ticket I needed to all the destinations I love: the early 1930s, antiques, and the tangled quest for self-fulfillment.

Maeve Fanning is a hot mess: a fiery red-haired Irish girl of obscure paternal origin, with an uptight, demanding mother in Boston, she flees to
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
There are books that I can only describe as being literary Chinese food, I enjoy the book while I read it--at times I can't even put it down--but, once I'm done, I just don't feel satisfied. There is a lot in Rare Objects to recommend it, but I just didn't feel that it came together at the end.

The novel has a promising start--our heroine finds herself in a mental hospital, where she meets Diana, a mysterious but fragile woman. We are quickly brought back to 1930's Boston, where the bulk of the a
Steven Walle
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was awesome. I really enjoyed it. I will give a full review at a later date.
Be Blessed.
Another Battle of the Books Tournament book (this one written by a Pittsburgh author, though the story takes place in Boston and, briefly, NYC) that I was unfamiliar with originally. The author's name is familiar to me, though I don't know if she is actually related to the Tessaro family of the delicious Tessaro's in Bloomfield.

1930s Boston. Maeve Fanning has had a rough time of things, most of which we learn about through flashbacks that don't really go much further than that. She has had a sti
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rare Objects is set in Depression-era Boston and follows Maeve Fanning, a first-generation Irish woman, living with her widowed mother. Maeve makes some wrong choices and lands in a psychiatric hospital, like so many misunderstood women of that time. In the hospital she strikes up a friendship with Diana, who is from a wealthy Boston family, and their friendship continues outside of the hospital.

Maeve gets sucked into Diana's web and both women feed off of each other as they try to push the bou
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A solid 3.75. I really enjoyed this one. Set in Depression Era Boston, Maeve Fanning is cunning, smart, and totally adrift. She finds herself working in an antique shop, and immersed both in the lives and inner workings of that business, as much as entangled with the Van De Leer family, enigmatic, mysterious, a glamorous world of half truths. One of the themes in the novel, was that "you become the story you tell." Selling rare objects is about the story of where things came from, broken, old, l ...more
Colleen Turner
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fine my full review at

Depression-era United States isn't a place and time I've read much about but, after reading Rare Objects, I'm starting to think that's been a mistake. Given this story's subject matter, the contrast between the poor, crowded, down on their luck immigrant communities like the one Maeve grew up in and the rich, opulent, and wanton world she becomes enmeshed in while working in the antiques store, is glaringly clear and that much more po
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed every bit of this book. From the cover to the characters and lastly and most importantly the story. I was not a complete fan of the ending though. Only because I didn't want it to end. I wanted to know more about Several characters and where they ended up. With that being said it lets me hold out hope that this one could be a series.
There were certain things in the story I wanted to read more of. More than one character felt open ended. Not really a cliff hanger the author addressed e
Maeve is an Irish girl from Boston who runs away to NYC for reasons best known to herself (but which we can easily guess). In NYC, she develops alcoholism. She was already susceptible to alcohol in Boston, but at least she had a mother to look after her. (Not that she did much). No such thing in NYC, and one thing leads to another and she finds herself in a facility for the mentally challenged. There she meets a girl, clearly privileged, exchanges a couple of conversations, is released and comes ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
I can't recall where the recommendation for this book came from. I really need to take note of that so I won't waste my time in the future. The Boston locale, premise to reinvent oneself, antiquities...all had potential, but the narrative did not resonate with me.
DJ Sakata
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Favorite Quotes:

“It’s a trick I learned from my mother – when in doubt, act like you know what you’re doing, and you’ll be treated like you do. And if you can convince others, there’s a chance that someday you might just be able to convince yourself.”

“I used to wonder what it felt like to waste something; as a child I couldn’t imagine anything more delicious or sinful than the extravagance of throwing things away. I’ve wasted a few things since then; it’s not as liberating as I imagined.”

Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Opening Rare Objects is like entering another world. This exceptionally engrossing novel will transport you to Boston in the 1930's. You will meet Maeve Fanning, who aspires to a life beyond her working class background, and who reinvents herself among the social elite in order to pursue a new future.

I love historical fiction and found the setting and time period of this book unique and interesting. I rarely seem to find historical fiction set during the Depression Era.

Maeve is an unusual char
I tremendously enjoyed reading this book. At first it's just an interesting read about a lost girl falling down the rabbit hole of bad decisions, unable to understand how things have turned so wrong, so quickly. However, as she desperately fights to make something worthwhile of her life, she makes an unlikely friend in Diana. The two alternately work to bring each other down, then to lift each other up. They are both a matched pair of likable but desperate girls; fragile and infinitely breakable ...more
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Overall a good read. There were some intriguing characters in this story (lots of them actually) but in the end I wished there were less characters with small parts and more closure for the big characters.

The narrator, Maeve, is a working girl in depression era Boston who makes some bad decisions that put her into a mental hospital where she meets Diana, the other main character whose story this book follows almost as closely. The problem I had was that Maeve's hospitalization seemed
Alex Cantone
Sometimes, being broken is the most interesting thing to happen....

Set in Boston in the early thirties, it charts the friendship between two young women, Diana wealthy and privileged, and Maeve from an impoverished single parent family who meet at an asylum after failed suicide attempts. Maeve is drawn to unsuitable men, but managed to secure a job as sales assistant at an antique and curio shop co-owned by Mr. Kessler, the business partner, and archaeologist Mr. Winshaw who sources objects from
I am not even sure how I found this book…perhaps the cover caught my eye? I went into with no expectations and no previous experience of this author and was really blown away. There is a LOT going on here, in a good way. Set in 1930s Boston, we manage to cover various immigrant waves entering the city, class issues, mental illness, and some really good character development. Oh, and antiques…which I enjoyed WAY more than I thought I was going to. The book summary gives a good idea of the general ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book via goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
This book is lovely like the title a rare object.
I enjoyed the story line very much i felt i was immersed in 1930's Boston i do love it when a book does that!
The characters were believable and you really wanted May with a y to get her life together!
Highly recommend
Baker St Shelves
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is actually pretty enjoyable. Excellent use of characters and imagery. Reminds me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, in that it really paints a picture of the early 30's in Boston. Perfect for fans of historical fiction. Be sure to check it out.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I didn't like this as much as The Perfume Collector although I enjoyed the descriptions of the North End of Boston in the 30's. The characters just didn't seem as real to me. Still a good easy read with happy endings...
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good book with some secrets. I agree with the comment on front delicious read
Joanne Whitehouse
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing read with interesting characters and storyline. Psychological twists and turns, characters are not what they seem. I ate up this book in no time! Great historical fiction set in Boston.
Barbara Bryant
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
What a person collects tells me so much about them. "In its purest form, collecting is designing--selecting objects to create sense, order, and beauty...fitting another intricate piece into a carefully curated world of [our] own construction. At its root is an ancient belief, a hope, in the magic of objects. No matter how sophisticated we think we are, we still search for alchemy."

This Depression era novel, set in Boston in 1932, captures a time when the lines between poverty and ultra rich were
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. You know it is good when you're sad the book isn't longer.
Christy Hilmas
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So engrossing & interesting. Read it in one day.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa of Hopewell
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
Decoration Day? p. 284 mentions "Declaration Day...." hmmmmm

3.5 stars

Full Review here:
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reminds me of the song Madness by Ruelle.
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Play Book Tag: Rare Objects 1 12 Jul 16, 2017 08:24AM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jun 23, 2015 06:55PM  

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Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel ...more
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“Because happiness isn’t made of fun. It’s made of solid, real things. It’s made of paychecks and clean clothing, and hot food and healthy children, and a man who can look you in the eye when he comes home because he has nothing to hide. It’s not so rare. In fact, it’s so common people don’t notice it. They look for roses when they should be looking for indoor plumbing.” Ma,” 3 likes
“The world was full of collectors, scouring the earth for pieces of themselves.” 2 likes
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