Felice's Reviews > Elizabeth Street

Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
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Nov 02, 11

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 York. With this new life comes new happiness and new problems.
Giovanna's struggles to push her family out of poverty and into prosperity are a mish mash of every Taylor Caldwall, Belva Plain, Howard Fast and John Jakes novel you ever read.
Fabiano hits all the high points including tragic love, crushing poverty, unimaginably horrible tenements, the Black Hand, kidnapping, extortion, tested loyalties, etc. Not to worry though because Giovanna is that most common of all historical novel's elements--Ta Da-- The Woman Ahead Of Her Time. Sigh.
Elizabeth Street does have interesting history and credible settings. Carving out a life for yourself as an immigrant in New York City at the turn of the century would have taken extraordinary courage and perserverance and Fabiano pays believable hommage to all those difficulties. Fabiano also does a good job alternating the narrative between Giovanna's story and the present day but by the end of the book it's just another story you have read before
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella "The Woman Ahead Of Her Time" is a pet peeve of mine. I call it the "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" effect.

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Clayton "Giovanna is that most common of all historical novel's elements--Ta Da-- The Woman Ahead Of Her Time." Interesting review, Felice. In my historical, White Seed, I strove to avoid just that, putting realistic, period-relevent software in my female characters' heads. Unfortunately, I think some female readers had a problem with that. From my reading between the lines (of reviews), and from casting chicken bones upon the mud floor, I divined that some female readers do want modern women showing up in their historicals. Could be wrong, and I apologize for my generalizing. Actually, this would be a good question to run by the acquisition editors at a big NYC publishing conglomerate. Anyway, if you would like a Kindle copy of White Seed to review, let me know. Best!

Michelle Thieme I guess my experience of this book was much different. The book is based on true events and real people and I personally know Giovanna's granddaughter and am told that Giovanna was exactly as she's portrayed in the book and that the author did extensive research into the events depicted such as the earthquake and tsunami. Giovanna had to be strong, so she was. And, given how many dramatic and traumatic events are depicted in the book, I didn't think the book was overly dramatic or played up...those events were almost downplayed by the point-of-fact point of view from which the author was writing. Almost a "this is the way it really happened," narrative. I liked the book and I loved Giovanna.

Patricia dumas Except like others, it's true. Her family lived it.

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