Sally Otis works as a waitress in order to support her three children and a jobless younger sister. They live in a down-trodden apartment house, which they share with other working class tenants. Her husband is in a State mental hospital and most likely there for good. Her deadbeat younger brother and a lodger from across the hall pay board to eat in her crowded little flat. As Christmas approaches, there is no money for gifts and no prospect of her husband returning home. As her burden becomes intolerable, Sally's sturdy courage begins to falter. To make matters worse, the sleazy, suspicious owner of the local night club - Nick Toresca - takes a fancy to Sally and won't leave her alone. As he is the brother of her boss at the greasy spoon, she is in no position to call the shots. Things are shaken up when Sally's sister - the swaggering, glamorous, independent Petey Braun - appears on the scene. All loud laugh, deep voice, self-confident aplomb and worldly generosity, Petey grabs the spotlight and centre of the stage and never lets them go. She is an American career woman - one who makes a career of men: she is a master of her trade. To give Sally a break, Petey sets about to dazzle Nick so that he has no eyes for Sally. Nothing is straightforward when Petey gets involved, however, so what follows is a swift-paced tale of tension, excitement and sibling rivalry as the very different worlds of Sally and Petey collide . . .
Maritta Wolff was born in 1918 in Michigan. Whistle Stop, her first novel, won the Avery Hopwood Award in 1940. A runaway bestseller, the book was also printed as a special Armed Forces edition for American troops during World War II. Whistle Stop was made into a feature film in 1946, starring Ava Gardner. In the next two decades, Ms. Wolff authored more than five novels, but she hid her final, unpublished manuscript in her refrigerator until her death in 2002. Rediscovered, that novel, Sudden Rain, is available from Scribner.
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