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Elizabeth Street: A novel based on true events

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  7,135 ratings  ·  884 reviews
Based on true events, Elizabeth Street is a multigenerational saga that opens in an Italian village in the 1900's, and crosses the ocean to New York's Lower East Side. At the heart of the novel is Giovanna, whose family is targeted by the notorious Black Hand--the precursor to the Mafia.

Elizabeth Street brings to light a period in history when Italian immigrant neighborho
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Paperback, 410 pages
Published June 17th 2009 by CreateSpace (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Michelle Thieme
I loved, loved, loved, loved, L.O.V.E.D., this book! I was powerfully moved by Giovanna, the main character, and her sheer strength of will. Based on true events from the author's family history, I felt the book opened a whole new world for me as I'm not really a fan of turn of the 20th century American history. But, the author's grandmother lives in the retirement community where I work and I told her that I'd read it. Loved it!

When I told my resident (author's grandmother), how much I enjoyed
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Felice
It's been a while since I have read an American immigrant story. For years they were a staple of my reading then I got out of the habit. I wasn't sure why but after reading Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano I may have the answer. Cliches.
Elizabeth Street is the story of one woman's immigrant experience. In the early days of the twentieth century Giovanna Costa leaves her home in Italy with all of it's ties and tragedies to find out what has happened to her husband and make a new life in New Yo
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Rachel
This book was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be a story about several characters all living in the same street over many years.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this book, instead, focused on one amazingly strong female character. Of course there were other players in the story(ies) but our interest in their stories was always to support our understanding of the main character.
And the book did jump around in time but the later time period was directly related to the earli
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Debbie
Elizabeth Street is the remarkable story of Italian immigrants living in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. This book is both educational and enjoyable. Within its pages you will learn what it was like to cross the ocean and pass through Ellis Island as an immigrant. You will learn what it’s like to become a widow in a foreign country. You will learn about the 1908 Messina earthquake which killed more than 100,000 people in southern Italy. You will learn about the Black Hand, a form ...more
Jess
This book was alright. It had some interesting ideas and I liked some of the history. I was however fairly disappointed in the ending. You knew for half of the book what was going to happen in the end so all of what I assume was supposed to be the climactic part of the story was pretty boring. I found out about the book through the amazon kindle daily post. They were highlighting upcoming authors and this book was pretty cheap. It was kind of fun to read something that I hadn't heard anything ab ...more
Sjcapanna
What a disappointing way to start my 2011 reading list. I got this book because it was $4 on the Kindle, and I thought I might have stumbled on some hidden gem. Hidden? Yes. Gem? No.

This is a book about immigrants living in tenements in the 1900s, so I thought it might be like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It was not, in that Tree was good. Also it's about Italian immigrants, so I thought it might give me some insight into what it was like for my ancestors. And maybe it did. It was very Mafia-heavy,
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Jaclyn Day
This book has been getting a lot of buzz and once I learned a little more about it (that it was based on Fabiano’s actual family history, for one), I downloaded it on my Kindle right away.

It is a fascinating story of her family and their experiences as Italian immigrants in America. There’s a touch of danger (early precursors of the New York City Italian mob presence that became more prevalent later in the 20th century make regular appearances) and plenty of heartbreak, but Fabiano manages to co
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Jeannie Mancini
From the Old Country to the Land of Liberty

Laurie Fabiano’s new historical novel Elizabeth Street is a fictionalized account of the life of her Grandmother, Giovanna Costa, who crossed the Atlantic in 1902 from Calabria Italy to investigate the death of her husband Nunzio who had made the journey the previous year to find a job and earn enough money for his wife’s passage.

Sailing into New York harbor beneath Lady Liberty’s torch, Giovanna soon steps on American shores and is met by her brother-
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Yoonmee
I'm surprised this got so many good reviews. Well, maybe not surprised. Who knows. I wasn't impressed at all by this story.

Let me back up and note that this was the very first book I read on my Kindle, so that may have influenced how I felt about the book. Although, I don't think reading it on the Kindle influenced my opinion, you never know. I'm certainly not against technology nor am I against reading online, reading on e-readers, cell phones, etc. In fact, I embrace all those things and woul
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Lorma
Found this book through a friends recommendation...part of the story takes place in Scilla,Calabria,Italy... My parents hometown, so I was so excited to read it and I was not disappointed!

This true story revolves around Giovanna Costa a woman with a commanding presence and fierce determination. Taking place in the late 1800's, Giovanna was not only educated but also an aspiring mid-wife in town. After their marriage her husband Nunzio set forth to America following Giovanna's brother Lorenzo,in
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Lauren
Elizabeth Street was a quick read. It tells the story of Francesca, woman from Calabria, Italy and her journey to turn of the century Little Italy in New York. It starts with her life in the "Old Country" and her marriage to Nunzio, her childhood sweetheart. The story then shifts to Nunzio and discusses his attempts to make a better life in La America. It describes the tenemants in Little Italy and the horrible working conditions of the Italian immigrants building modern New York. Eventually Fra ...more
Elizabeth
I got this book either for free or for 99 cents on amazon and never really thought about it again. Then, as I was trying to a) limit the weight of the books I was carrying on the metro and b) clear out some unread stuff on my kindle I thought I'd check it out. It started out a little slow but I gave it the benefit of the doubt just based on my interest with NYC at the turn of the century, especially for immigrants living in the tenements. As it went on, however, I got hooked. Giovanna grows so m ...more
Nenette
What's so wonderful about this story is the fact that it was not lost through the generations. The tale of the Costa-Siena family is really one for the books, with all that happened to them. It is a testament to the early generation's desires and dreams to provide for a better future. It is for the younger generations to appreciate how they have it far easier now; and how they too, must have the resilience and strength of their forefathers to weather any storm.
Carrie
This is an interesting book. Written about the author's actual family and family events, it tells the story of an Italian family's immigration to the United States during the early 1900's and the struggles they faced here as they carved a space for themselves in their new country. It also touches on the struggles their family in Italy faced, which were arguably worse than those of the immigrants, because they were left without the promise of the American dream.

Had the book been a work of fictio
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Cindy
I absolutely loved this book. What an amazing story and what an amazing way to share it! As she explains throughout the book, she becomes fascinated with her family's history when her great grandmother becomes visibly upset with a mob documentary and she realizes that, despite her family's and the italian way of keeping things private, there is a story here to learn and to share. She weaves this tale so that you are attached to each character, real life people, to each story. You're heartbroken ...more
Anne Marie Macek
This book gripped me from the start, and I had a hard time putting it down! This story of Italian immigrants in New York's Little Italy in the early 1900's is the fictionalized account of the author's own family history, enriched by obvious historical research. The fast-paced plot follows the author's great-grandmother, Giovanna, from her childhood and marriage in Calabria, Italy to her immigration to New York City following her husband's death in a construction accident. There she tries to star ...more
Jessica
I really enjoyed this book about a strong close family of Italian immigrants to NYC. The heroine Giovanna was an interesting character. It shows how hard people worked to make it in their newly adopted country of USA. The book is based on family oral accounts as well as researched information from that time frame. It was even exciting after finishing the story to read that the author started her research in the genealogy library of the "Latter day Saints" Since my own ancestors came from the old ...more
Judith
I really loved reading about the strong, capable woman, Giovanna Costa, who overcame so many obstacles in her journey from a small Italian fishing village to her life as an immigrant on the streets of NYC. Not only was she widowed early in life by the prejudice of earlier immigrants in the city, but she had to overcome the greed and violence of the Black Hand, the extortionists who terrorized the honest hard-working Italian immigrants of the early 20th century in New York.

Though uneducated, she
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Brian Goeselt
Elizabeth Street was recommended to me by a friend, and boy was she right. This is a "coming to America" story set in turn of the century coastal Southern Italy and the bustling Little Italy of New York's lower East Side. The protagonist is Giovana, an indomitable immigrant woman who overcomes tragedy and mob brutality to make her way in the world. I actually liked the scenes set in Scylla, Italy as much as those set in a Little Italy.

Only two reservations about Elizabeth Street keep this from b
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Qnpoohbear
Life in southern Italy post-unification is supposed to be filled with promise but unfortunately that turns out not to be the case for Giovanna and Nunzio. The two are cousins and sweethearts and are finally able to marry after Nunzio finishes college in the north. However, there are no jobs for an engineer in the south so Nunzio must go to America, the land of dreams. The women of Scilla see the Statue of Liberty as a puttana (whore), stealing their men from them. Giovanna waits and waits for Nu ...more
Maxine
"Elizabeth Street" tells the story of Italian immigrants to New York in a way that I've never seen it told before.

In telling her own family history, Laurie Fabiano lets us see through the eyes and hearts of the immigrants themselves. We experience the struggle of poor families in a small fishing town in Southern Italy first-hand, and understand the heartbreak of having to leave home and all they've ever known and loved to try to find a better life in America.

Through those who lived it, we enco
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Sara
This story drew me in emotionally from the beginning, despite or maybe because of Laurie's very direct, simple voice and the dignity with which she tells her great-grandmother Giovanna's story. It's an unusual voice, a bit old-fashioned, Italian insults and deeper reflections side by side. Giovanna and Nunzio's love for each other is made real from the beginning, the foundation for the whole story of this Italian family.
Laurie's Big Nanny Giovanna died in 1963, the same day as President Kennedy
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Michelle
This is one of the best books I've read in awhile. If you love historical fiction - especially if you're interested in the immigrant experience, life in urban America in the early 20th century, or Italian history - you will love this book. Interestingly, I didn't realize until I finished it that this book was not just based on any true story, but on the author's grandmother and great grandmother. There is actually a note prior to the beginning of the story that explains this, but my Kindle jumpe ...more
Natalie
This is a great story. I think the fact that this is based on a true story both helps and hinders the plot. The characters are fascinating (particularly Giovanna) and I think it really added to the plot to know that the ordeals that Giovanna has to go through are real.

That being said, I could have done without the flash forwards. Although sometimes the flash forwards helped me connect the dots, on the whole I found the interruptions in the plot to be distracting and the flash forwards really did
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Connie
ELIZABETH STREET by Laurie Fabiano is 400 pages in Kindle format. It falls in the historical fiction category and I loved every word of this book.

Brief Description:

In ELIZABETH STREET Laurie Fabiano tells a remarkable, and previously unheard, story of the Italian immigrant experience at the start of the twentieth century. Culled from her own family history, Fabiano paints an entrancing portrait of Giovanna Costa, who, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life in a new world. Shot
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Christy B
This book struck a chord with me. Elizabeth Street immediately caught my attention while reading the summary. A book about Italian immigrants and the challenges they faced when they got here? Yes, please. I'm half Italian American, so that means that half of my immigrant ancestors came from Italy – all of them on my mom's side. And they all came during the time of the so-called Great Italian Migration.

Unfortunately, none of my living Italian American relatives know much about my great-great gran
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RETRODOLL
NO spoilers, I promise -- I just finished this book today. The basics of the story centers around Giovanna Costa, a strong, whip smart, Italian immigrant. She's a great heroine and her supporting cast are just as developed. The story is set at the turn of the century and goes from the destruction and chaos of southern Italy, to the immigrants unfamiliar new homes in NYC. It is loosely based on "true events" of the author's family. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars because I didn't absolutely love it b ...more
Kate
Interesting read about the Italian American immigration experience at the beginning of the 20th century leadingup toWWI. Sicilian emigrant Giovanna h death. Italy to come to New York following the accidental death of her beloved husband Nunzio. Here she encounters the ill treatment and cover up of immigrants by big business along with the criminality and blackmail of Italian pre-mafioso known as the black hand. The resulting kidnapping of her daughter leads her to deal with the situation herself ...more
Gail Long
First novelist Fabiano is dead-on in her portrait of the Italian-American immigrant experience. This engrossing cross-generational saga centers on the experiences of Giovanna Costa, from the small Italian fishing village where she is born to the bustling streets of New York's Lower East Side where she struggles to raise her family and make a living as a midwife after the death of her first husband. In America, the resourceful Giovanna and her second husband eventually open a fruit and vegetable ...more
Phyllis
I got very caught up in the historical aspects of this novel; I really enjoyed the protagonist's viewpoint as she was a small girl in Scylla, Italy through her travels to America and her establishment of a home and family here during the turn of the century.
I found the heroine to be an extremely strong woman, finding solutions to problems and demonstrating courage in the face of some pretty challenging obstacles. I enjoyed watching her life unfold and seeing the impact of her choices on her fami
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“With her ten-year-old nephew as a guide, she tried to think of it as an adventure. And then came the more difficult part-she had to try to convince herself that she liked adventures.” 4 likes
“When Angelina was returned, she was embarrassed to confess and admit that she hadn’t trusted her. “Why don’t you go see her, Giovanna?” suggested Teresa softly. “I want to go for a walk. Can you finish” 0 likes
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