Jeannie Mancini's Reviews > Elizabeth Street: A Novel Based On True Events

Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
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Oct 01, 10

Read from September 28 to 30, 2010 — I own a copy

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-in-law Lorenzo, who will take her to live with his family. Giovanna is then told the shocking and brutal details of how Nunzio was killed on the job at the local Gas company, and together her and Lorenzo hire a lawyer to sue the company for her husbands horrifying death due to their negligence.

As Giovanna tries to settle in and learns to navigate the filthy streets of the Italian quarter of New York, struggles with the language barrier, the legal system, and grieves over her loss, she slowly builds a life for herself and remarries another Calabrian who is a produce merchant. Both widows start anew building a family and grocery business, but as life has a tendency to never give people a break in life, troubles and tragedy hit Giovanna hard when the Black Hand, the old name for the Mafia, reeks havoc in their lives by bombing their store and kidnapping their baby girl. What Giovanna does to overcome the threat of extortion, murder, and the concept that she may never see her baby Angelina again, will shock and astound readers as they silently read and cheer her bravery and determination on as she turns the table around and gives the Black Hand a good dose of their own medicine as she learns to play hardball and the hunted becomes the hunter.

The author’s retelling of her grandmother’s life is a gripping and fascinating up-close-and-personal view into the world of New York’s turn-of-the-century immigrant life. She offers the reader an honest and realistic picture depicting a life of total hardship, poverty, and chaos amidst the Italian people trying hard to make a new life. This was at a time when the early Mafia gangs were growing and raking in the dough through extortion and terrorizing innocent people. Fabiano’s writing is amazingly poignant and emotional, you will feel for Giovanna and her family as their new life brings only pain, and will immediately be pulled into her story that is so evocative of the time and place you will not be able to put the book down until you finish it.

As an Italian-American with Calabrian roots from my father’s parents who came over from Italy in the mid 1800’s, Elizabeth Street helped me greatly to understand the early immigrant culture and life that my own grandparents would have experienced. Thank you Laurie Fabiano for a sensational book! I truly loved this story and believe all Italian Americans today would too.
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