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This review is from: Elizabeth Street (Paperback)
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Elizabeth Street is a truly beautiful novel. Offering an evocative portrayal of the lives of Italian immigrants in New York at the turn of the century, it is by turns both joyous and heartbreaking. Based on true events in the lives of the author's grandmother and great grandmother, this is a family saga come crime thriller with few parallels. Taking in poverty, personal tragedy, natural disaster, and the ministrations of the Black Hand, this novel is as unflinching in its portrayal of tragedy as it is in its considerations of the small happinesses of life -- friendship, love, and family. I can honestly say that I've not read a novel I've enjoyed more in some considerable time.
The main character, Giovanna (the great grandmother in question), is superbly drawn and hugely inspiring, showing incredible strength and courage in adversity. The other characters are equally well crafted, and, as their story progresses, they become people you care about immensely. The plot is similarly gripping, moving along at an incredible pace, so this novel never feels like a history lesson -- testament, I believe, to Laurie Fabiano's beautiful prose style. She relates her family's story so flawlessly that it feels lived, rather than read.
This novel reproduces all the highs and lows of life, and had me laughing and crying almost alternately. If emotional involvement is the mark of a stunning novel -- then Elizabeth Street is in a class of its own. Giovanna's story is truly unforgettable -- one that will stay with you long after you finish reading.