The Red Coat

Think Downton Abbey , but set in the heart of Boston . . .

Irish domestic worker Norah King’s decision to ask her wealthy employer, Caroline Parker, for an elegant red coat the Beacon Hill matriarch has marked for donation ignites a series of events that neither woman could have fathomed.

The unlikely exchange will impact their respective daughters for generations, from the coat’s original owner, marriage-minded collegian Cordelia Parker, to the determined and spirited King sisters of South Boston, Rosemary, Kay, and Rita. As all of these young women experience the realities of life—love and loss, conflict and joy, class prejudices and unexpected prospects—the red coat reveals the distinction between cultures, generations, and landscapes in Boston during the 1940s and 50s, a time of change, challenge, and opportunity.

Meet the proud, working-class Irish and staid, upper-class Brahmins through the contrasting lives of these two families and their friends and neighbors.
See how the Parkers and the Kings each overcome sudden tragedy with resolve and triumph. And witness the profound impact of a mother’s heart on her children’s souls.

Carlson brings us front and center with her knowing weave of Celtic passion both tragic and joyful words of wisdom, romance, humor and historical events. We are in Boston feet first and loving every step. The red coat is a rich legacy from both sides of the city, Southie and the Hill.

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The Red Coat


The Red Coat is a suspenseful story of family, romance and class conflict between the Irish immigrant community of South Boston and the long-established Brahmins of Boston’s Beacon Hill. It’s a page-turner, but it’s also a lovingly crafted evocation of mid-twentieth century Boston worthy of the history books.”

- Rosemary Mahoney, award-winning author of Down the Nile and For the Benefit of Those Who See