Based on the historical facts of a murder in 1830s New York City, and the subsequent trial of the accused killer, City of Desire is the story of a great city and the beautiful, smart, proud, and tragic Helen Jewett.
City of Desire is the story of the beautiful, smart, and tragic Helen Jewett. This compelling debut novel by Sidney Morrison is based on the historical facts of Jewett’s life and murder, and the subsequent trial of the accused killer.
Helen comes from poverty, but her father hires out his precocious child to a respected judge as a servant and companion to his children. The judge is captivated by his servant and repeatedly rapes her. When the judge’s son-in-law initiates a sexual relationship with Helen and the relationship is revealed, the scandal leads to her dismissal.
Eighteen and “ruined” without references, Helen lands in New York City and turns to prostitution for survival. Helen attracts the attention of reporters, moral crusaders, as well as the rich and powerful who seek her services in the best brothels in town. She falls in love with one her clients, who proves her undoing.