The Oystercatcher of Southwark

by Erica Colahan

Forthcoming July 2024

Philadelphia, 1897
—When Italian Catholic immigrant Mary Paragano runs away to marry a Jewish boy named Jakob, she does not find her happily ever after. Instead, she is disowned by her father, abandoned by her husband, and pursued by a jealous gangster. She ends her life in an asylum, accused of trying to murder her own children.

Philadelphia, present-day—While Bella, Mary’s great-great-granddaughter, tries to cope with the pain of her recent divorce, she is approached by Sophie, a stranger claiming to be a relative of Jakob, the man who abandoned Mary to her horrible fate 125 years before. As the women piece together what happened on that tragic night, they soon realize things are not always what they seem. Was Jakob a scoundrel and Mary insane? And how have deceptions more than a century old affected their lives even in the present day?

Based on the actual events of the life of the author’s great-great-grandmother, The Oystercatcher of Southwark is a journey through the immigrant neighborhoods of South Philadelphia that focuses on the intense love of a mother for her children and the redemptive hope that God offers to all creation.


“Author Erica Colahan immediately caught my interest with her debut novel, The Oystercatcher of Southwark. This multi-generational story is a testament to the strength of a mother’s love and the poignancy of youthful romance tempered with the often harsh edge of reality. Always, though, hope abounds and truth will be found out.” —Kimberley Duffy, Author of The Weight of Air

“Riveting! A remarkable tale inspired by an equally remarkable true story, The Oystercatcher of Southwark features strong, complicated characters whose search for truth, justice, self-knowledge, and faith will resonate with a diverse readership.” —Rhonda Ortiz, award-winning author of the Molly Chase series

“Based on a true story, The Oystercatcher of Southwark by Erica Colahan is an emotional journey of discovery, forgiveness, and freedom. This split-time saga displays the struggles of Italian and Jewish immigrants when prejudice and power are wielded against them. However, the tragic life of one Italian woman will inspire a future generation and readers alike.” —Danielle Grandinetti, award-winning author of The Harbored in Crow’s Nest series