- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 44 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Brilliance Audio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 Oct. 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005SG4GG0
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Elizabeth Street Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
The contrast of a never changing , innocent fishing community cast adrift off southern Italy with the burgeoning , corrupt overcrowded NY streets is huge .The life of the poor half starved , abused immigrants leaves one full of admiration for those who survived and prospered .There was corruption everywhere . No one outwith the immediate family could be trusted .The "black hand " thugs [ forerunners of the mafia]ran the rackets and didn't care that it was there own people that they were violently exploiting .There were few honest cops and those that were , were soon dealt with by the mobsters or the thieving politicians . Back in Scilla there were also devastating events and the author moves between the two locations skillfully never loosing our interest with her family's fascinating history .
We have murder , protection rackets ,primitive labour practices mixed in with hard work ,poverty and honest decent family values .
It took 10 years of research to bring about publication and it shows . The reader never doubts the accuracy of the events related in the lives of this real , extraordinary family .
This is a page turner from first to last .
Without wishing to give too much away in terms of how the narrative develops (the amazon synopsis above provides the salient information), I must say I found this a very absorbing and vivid story, full of engaging personal interactions as well as very dramatic and disturbing events, that drew me in very quickly and kept me interested right to the end. Although the odd phrase here and there struck me as somewhat lazy and imprecise cliches posing as meaningful insights (e.g. 'Even from this distance she could feel his warmth and see beyond his eyes'), the prose style is generally pleasingly unobtrusive, moving the action on with a deft economy that keeps the focus on the characters (especially the strong and well-drawn female ones) and their various concerns.
I thought this was the most interesting part of the book.
Back in the southern region of the newly United Italy life was so hard and poverty so intense that even food was hard to come by. Those who could emigrated to the USA sometimes sending back money to bring the rest of the family, sometimes sending money back with plans to return home.
Two of the central characters of this book are based on the author's real grandmother and great grandmother. Around their lives the story is told with a lot of fascinating detail of what life was like at the turn of the 20th century.
Early tragic events are movingly told and give depth to the account.
This book states it is "a novel based on true events" but that is the problem. I felt I was simply reading a dry account of the facts, written without enough of a real narrative drive. I was not sure which bits were true facts and which were fiction and I stopped caring.
It is interesting enough to be recommended to anyone with relatives who did emigrate at that period of time, or even to anyone interested in recent history.
But as a novel I simply wasn't gripped enough, which is a shame.
Some reviews mention their surprise to find out how hard life was for the immigrants at that time in history. I may be older (not that old!), but there have been many films and novels showing the toughness and squalor of then. One book I recommend is A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" which is also an old black and white movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
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A brilliant novel, I'm sure worse things than this happened, highly recommend it
A thoroughly enjoyable read