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North River

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,023 ratings  ·  530 reviews

One snowy New Year's Day, in the midst of the Great Depression, Dr. James Delaney--haunted by the slaughters of the Great War, and abandoned by his wife and daughter--returns home to find his three-year-old grandson on his doorstep, left by his mother in Delaney's care. Coping with this unexpected arrival, Delaney hires Rose, a tough, decent Sicilian woman with a secret i
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 4th 2008 by Back Bay Books (first published June 1st 2007)
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
I knew before I finished that I would score this one 5 stars. It's a love story, but so much more than a love story. Dr. Jim Delaney and Ruth Verga are people you would be proud to know. Not because they are such perfect people (they're not) but because deep down they are good, honest, and courageous people. There is a short interview with the author in the edition I read, and he says he made the Greenwich Village neighborhood one of the characters of the story. Aha, I thought, that's at least p ...more
This book was strange for me. It was interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading it, but when I finished I realized it wasn't really that good. I think the problem for me was that the book seemed like it was leading up to something really big. I kept waiting and waiting for it, but it turned out to be extremely anti-climatic.
Chad Sayban
More reviews at The Story Within The Story

New York City of the mid-1930s is in the grips of the Great Depression and Dr. James Delaney is alone with his work. While he tends to the sick and injured all around his neighborhood, his daughter has left for Mexico and his unforgiving wife has vanished. But when Delaney returns home one snowy night, he finds his three-year-old grandson in front of his house with a note from his daughter. Overwhelmed, Delaney hires a tough Sicilian woman named Rose to
With rich characters and a treatment of setting that drops you into time and place perfectly, it's hard to see what some readers aren't liking about this book. I guess they were hoping for something more plot-driven with big twists or some kind of wild climax. I suspect they are hoping for something either more darkly noir or, conversely, a much lighter conventional romance. Instead, they get something that stays in the real space between: a story with people who are exceptional but still believ ...more
Pete Hamill's book, 'North River' is peopled by a cast of Runyonesque-type characters who should be both colorful and interesting, but, somehow, come across in this story a little flat. Perhaps that was a reflection of the times: the 1930's, at the height of the Depression.

I love New York City, and reading about its history. The only thing I seemed to learn about New York from this novel, however, is that Washington Square was once a potter's field. I didn't know that.

I seem to remember enjoying
I've never read anything by this man before. My father was born in Hell's Kitchen, I myself grew up on the NY streets, and I was curious to see how Hamill portrays this very interesting depression era. From what I can glean, it's historically accurate, and while I don't particularly care for this guy's style I have to admit I got a thrill reading about "my territory." In fact, I wanted more -- like, WHERE on 18th Street? It's a good, fast-paced novel, and Hamill makes his reader care about his c ...more
This book is a must read for any one who lived and loved in Brooklyn after the war.
Pete Hamill has a way of writing that makes you feel as if you are a part of the story.
Fantastic read.
Overall this was a good read with some minor annoyances.

A 40ish Irish doctor in the West Village in the Great Depression. His wife has gone missing for a year, their marriage was not blissful since WWI (some 18 years before), his daughter is flighty married to a Mexican revolutionary. The daughter dumps off her 3 year old son and journeys to Spain in search of her husband. The lonely doctor takes in the boy and hires a 30ish Italian woman to care for him. Of course they all bond and he comes to
Nov 10, 2008 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes good fiction
Recommended to Carol by: Tom Hanks
Reviews can bounce between extremes depending upon the reviewers. It helps to find someone who shares similar taste and that you know that if they like a book, you will most likely enjoy it as well. Oddly enough, this person for me is Tom Hanks. Yes, the actor Tom Hanks. I subscribe to his myspace blog because usually in the Fall he posts the books that he read over the summer and includes commentary. His taste is eclectic, and has caused me to read books I might not have picked up otherwise. To ...more
James Delaney is a local New York City doctor during the Depression who takes care of his neighbors and his WWI veteran comrades, who also happen to be mobsters. Delaney's wife and daughter, both of whom never got over his voluntary enlisment in the war, both have disappeared, leaving him lonely, self-doubting, frozen (lots of too-obvious freezing/thawing imagery). One wintry day Delaney arrives home to find his grandson left on his doorstep. He hires an illegal immigrant, a younger Sicilian wom ...more

It was OK. But what I was looking for was typical Hamill: gritty and sharp. And the first couple of chapters led me to believe I was going to get just that.

But then the story devolved... almost to the point of being a Chick Book with nice, safe, predictable characters and an ending to match.

One thing even more off putting than the story's predictability was Hamill's obvious respect for the Tammany Hall machine that still had power in the early '30s.

I don't think I've ever heard Tammany Hall
Joan Fitz-gerald
His descriptions of old NYC are evocative and nostalgic. He captures an era and knows his characters.
Seth Gurss
I enjoyed this book. It's not as good as "Forever", another of Hammill's books, but it is written in a similar style and does well at making the reader feel as if they are in New York in the 30s. The characters are rich and Hammill does a good job at moving the plot along at a quick pace. I lost track of the time in the book periodically and had trouble really understanding why Delaney was in this predicament. The true richness of this book, however, are the characters themselves. Hammill is won ...more
Probably 2.5 stars. Not a bad book, just nothing compelling.
I love serendipitous finds. This novel was for sale for 50 cents at the Gladwyne Public Library and I needed another book to read at night during my week at my daughter's house. It's interesting to me that it follows another book I loved--Rules of Civility--because it is also set in NYC and during the same decade--the 1930s--although this takes place earlier during the worst of the Depression and features folks who are struggling far more for the basic needs of life.

I like reading books set in
It is 1934, and New York City is in the icy grip of the Great Depression. With enormous compassion, Dr. James Delaney tends to his hurt, sick, and poor neighbors, who include gangsters, day laborers, prostitutes, and housewives. If they can't pay, he treats them anyway.

But in his own life, Delaney is emotionally numb, haunted by the slaughters of the Great War. His only daughter has left for Mexico, and his wife Molly vanished months before, leaving him to wonder if she is alive or dead. Then,
North River, my first book by Pete Hamill. (Thank you Susan.) Well I'm a fan. Just a lovely story with such interesting characters. Dr. Delaney and Rose are such a blessing to Delaney's grandson Carlito. I loved how this little boy changed their lives and brought them together. I haven't been to New York since my junior year in high school. Hamill makes me want to go back. I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author.
I picked this book up at a used bookstore, convinced that I had read something by Hamill in another life that I really enjoyed. Perhaps "in another life" should have been the key, as my tastes in literature have most likely changed, but I purchased the book anyway. Have my tastes changed for the good? Well that may never be determined. This is a love story, schmaltzy most of the time and as one would expect it has a happy ending. Not that there are not some plot lines that provide a sense of imp ...more
The premise of this story was interesting. A doctor in the 1930's deals with WWII, the depression, gang crime and life in New York City. Then his daughter leaves her 3 year old son in his care while she goes off chasing her runaway husband. I like the narrative and the story that develops between the main characters, but after awhile, it got predictable and boring. Some stronger editing could have made this book a winner.
Rancy Breece
Jan 13, 2015 Rancy Breece rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks who like stories about 1930's era NY
North River is one of Pete Hamill's best. During depression era New York, a doctor barely surviving the economic and social upheaval, takes in his estranged daughter's 3-year-old son. Delaney is doc to the poor, downtrodden, who rarely have enough money to feed themselves much less pay for his services. His daughter, Grace has left her son, Carlo with Delaney so that she can look for her husband, a socialist from Mexico, who has traveled to Spain or possibly Russia, to take part in the revolutio ...more
Dr. Delaney trudges through a dreary life in Depression-era New York, his wife having disappeared, and his daughter having left for Mexico. He treats his poverty-stricken neighbors, union workers, mob bosses, prostitutes, and World War I veterans, not knowing whether his wife is alive or dead, and wishing his daughter would return with her son. One day he comes home to find his toddler grandson left in his porch. He feels rage for his daughter, who has gone off to Spain to find her Mexican husba ...more
Everything Pete Hamill writes I absolutely love. Not only does he tell great stories with people that are real & true, he uses NYC as a character also. I always fall in love with NY in his stories just like I fall in love with the Midwest in Kent Haruf's books. The settings are characters in and of themselves.
Miranda Stockton
After reading this book I closed it and made a fart noise. Boring. I gave it two stars because it at least had enough plot to get me through to the end. And it drove me crazy how the main characters kept referring to the grandson as "the boy" and "boy". Who does that in real life?
I enjoyed this audiobook. The narrator was good and the story charming. It takes place in NYC in the 1930's. Jim Delaney is a neighborhood doctor - he does housecalls and walks to the hospital to do rounds. The book opens with him being summoned to care for a WWI buddy who is a mobster and been injured by a rival gang. Delaney arranges for him to go, literally, through the back door of the hospital for surgery. When Delaney returns home, he finds that his daughter Grace, whom he has not seen in ...more
No one knows or writes about New York City better than Pete Hamill. That's why he is one of the distinguished residents named a Living Landmark by the Conservancy. This is a simple book set in 1934--during the Depression and still dealing with the after effects of WWI. It's not wildly exciting but it felt completely real. It is one of those rare books you can step into and go from page 1 to the end without being aware that you reading a book. Of course there are some real people and real history ...more
This book was about a struggling doctor during the Great Depression. He cares for his patients, his young grandson and the live-in caretaker. As the story unfolds, love grows stronger.
A gripping story about intertwined lives in Depression era Greenwich Village. A neighborhood's struggle to survive viewed through the eyes of a compassionate physician who strives to do what he can to help relieve the pain of his neighbors, an old war buddy, and his own daughter. Said daughter dumps her toddler son on his doorstep leading to the hiring of a nanny who becomes the road to redemption for the young boy and his physician grandfather. The plot comes to a tense climax that is satisfyin ...more
Theresa Hale
I love Pete Hamill and the way he writes puts me right in the story. This is a great novel that I didn't want to end!
Life is layered. Humans seamlessly move hour by hour through family life, commuter life, work life, social life, whatever else life, and then go home again for family life. Our minds flit from one subject to another without anyone around us realizing we are thinking about pain, wondering about life, experiencing beauty, seeking love. We’re seldom noticed and never congratulated for retaining sanity as long as we remain reliable.
Through Hamill’s writing I sat on the reliable shoulders of Dr. Jam
James Delaney is a struggling physician , practicing on Manhattan's Westside, in the middle of America's worst depression.He is a veteran of WWI and has the scars to prove it. He lives in the ethnic boiling pot that made the West Side of Manhattan famous. He is a doctor to all who seek his help, whether they can afford to pay or not. However , he was apparently no help to his wife, Molly or his daughter, Grace.
They have both left him. Molly, because she was angry with his going off to war and
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Beyond North River 2 34 Feb 29, 2012 05:01PM  
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Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for more than forty years. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Catholic schools as a child. He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy. While serving in t ...more
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