Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

About the book

Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a fine Italian immigrant family in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1950. Fuelled by the post-war boom, in which talented girls with ambition are encouraged to follow their dreams, Lucia becomes an apprentice for a made-to-wear clothing designer at a chic department store on Fifth Avenue. Though she is sought after as a potential wife by the best Italian families, Lucia stays her course and works hard, determined to have a career. She juggles the roles of dutiful daughter and ambitious working girl perfectly. When a handsome stranger comes to the story and catches her eye, it is love at first sight for both of them. In order to win Lucia’s hand, he must first win over her traditional family and make the proper offer of marriage. Their love affair takes an unexpected turn as secrets are revealed, Lucia’s family honour is tested, and her own reputation becomes the centre of a sizzling scandal. Set in a time of possibility and change for women in America, in a city that celebrates its energy with style and elegance, LUCIA, LUCIA is the story of a girl who risks everything for the belief that a woman could – and should – be able to have it all.

Reviewed by Andrews Lodge

We all thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was well written and gave an insight into an Italian family in 1950’s New York You didn’t want to put it down”

star rating ****

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Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

About the book

Everything about this novel, set in 1930s New York, is achingly stylish – from the author’s name to the slinky jacket design. Katey Kontent, daughter of Russian immigrants, and Evie Ross, from the sleepy midwest, are an ambitious, wisecracking pair who, despite lack of money and connections, aim to set the city alight. A fortuitous meeting with the apparently wealthy Tinker Grey on New Year’s Eve, 1937, will change the course of both their lives.

 

 Reviewed by Lippy Ladies

This book was well liked by the group. Great Characters and beautifully written. Both descriptive scenes and prose transported the reader to another era. Cant wait for a sequel to tell us what Eve gets up to in L.A”

star rating ****

 

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Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan

About the book

Rural Irish girl Ellie loves living in New York, working as a lady’s maid for a wealthy socialite. She tries to persuade her husband, John, to join her but he is embroiled in his affairs in Ireland, and caught up in the civil war. Nevertheless Ellie is extremely happy and fully embraces her sophisticated new life. When her father dies she must return home, but she intends to sort her affairs quickly and then return to her beloved America.

But once home her sense of duty kicks in and she decides, painfully, that she must stay to look after her mother and resume her marriage. Ellie is suddenly thrown into the simple, rural life she believed she had grown out of…

Reviewed by Perspectives

A light, easy read that didn’t do the subject matter justice. A missed opportunity to offer an in-depth study of the period. Not recommended for a reading group”

star rating **

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To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

About the book

There’s nothing like a dental chair to remind a man that he’s alone in the world . . .

Paul O’Rourke – dentist extraordinaire, reluctant New Yorker, avowed atheist, disaffected Red Sox fan, and a connoisseur of the afternoon mochaccino – is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity.

So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual ‘Paul’ might be a better version of the man in the flesh . . .

Reviewed by Waterlooville

“Mixed feelings. Some could not finish it but others found it memorable and thought provoking”

star rating ***

 

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Sex wars by Marge Piercy

About the book

Life is hard in post-Civil War New York, but change is in the air. Immigrants are pouring into the city, bringing a new spirit in their wake. Among them is Freydeh, who lives in a tiny tenement flat with eight others and works at as many jobs as she can handle in hopes of raising enough money to bring her family over from Russia.

Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A theatre and literature

Marge Piercy offers us a wide and exotic canvas on which she paints a devastating picture of the “brave New World” of the United States. A long way from “Little Women” or the New England reformers of Henry James’ novels, Sex Wars gets into the tenements and whore-houses of New York and makes us feel the dirt and degradation. It leads to a view of their struggle for women’s suffrage little known or appreciated on this side of the Atlantic. We are reminded too that the extremes of religion and politics have not changed much in the past hundred years. This is a thought-provoking book for anyone prepared to be provoked.

Star rating: ****

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The Interpretation of murder by Jed Rubenfeld

About the book

The Interpretation of Murder’ is an inventive tour de force inspired by Sigmund Freud’s 1909 visit to America, accompanied by protege and rival, Carl Jung.

Reviewed by Forest Arts

The group enjoyed the descriptive passages concerning the building of New York. Not many sympathetic characters – plenty of corruption, even the coroner turned out to be crooked!. Some found it overlong – a possibility of a great adaptation for a film!

** 2 stars

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Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor

About the book

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York.
On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist, a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know. But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for the vengeance that will bring absolution.
The twenty-six day journey will see many lives end, others begin afresh. In a spellbinding story of tragedy and mercy, love and healing, the further the ship sails towards the Promised Land, the more her passengers seem moored to a past which will never let them go.

Reviewed by  Marchwood WI Reading Group:

An excellent read. A real insight into social history. All the characters were well drawn. If there was a criticism, maybe it was a bit too long.

Star rating: ****

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Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

book cover

About the book

Frank McCourt became an unlikely star when, at the age of sixty-six, he burst onto the literary scene with Angela’s Ashes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland. Then came ‘Tis, his glorious account of his early years in New York.
Now, here at last is McCourt’s long-awaited book about how his thirty-year teaching career shaped his second act as a writer. Teacher Man is also an urgent tribute to teachers everywhere. In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and compelling honesty, McCourt records the trials, triumphs and surprises he faced in the classroom. Teacher Man shows McCourt developing his unparalleled ability to tell a great story as, five days a week, five periods per day, he worked to gain the attention and respect of unruly, hormonally charged or indifferent adolescents.

Reviewed by Titchfield Abbey Reading Group:

A well told, vigorous memoir about teaching disaffected children in New York. A compassionate man. Raised many interesting issues about education.

Star rating: ***

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