Agatha's Reviews > When We Were Strangers

When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt
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Apr 26, 12

Read from April 24 to 26, 2012

** spoiler alert ** Historical fiction. Follows young Irma as she emigrates from a tiny town in Italy to the US, first to NYC, then Cleveland, Chicago, and, finally, San Francisco. She earns her way as a seamstress doing first collar piece work in Cleveland and then fine embroidery and sewing for rich ladies in Chicago.

I think the best adjective to describe this book would be: “uneven.” Some parts – brilliant, descriptive, flash of magic in the word choices, descriptions, insight. Other parts – so mediocre or simplistic, they jump out like dull rocks in a heap of diamonds. Did these parts just miss editing? I just don’t know. One example is: Irma lay covering her scar for the next few days at the bottom of the ship; but she had just gotten the cut a few days ago; how could it already be a scar? Very weird.

Throughout the book you could also hear the author putting forth her own modern-day lessons and points of view, which was jarring. Example: Irma jumps in to defend the two lesbians on the boat. Umm, really? Not so sure a little Catholic girl from a tiny village in Italy at the end of the 19th century would have done this.

Overall grade: C+.

PS My last bone to pick: what the heck does the title have to do with anything? I am getting tired of nebulous, “female-sounding,” titles. Have you all noticed this? So many of books which appeal to females, I feel, are titled something like, “The wisp of the grass in June,” or “Winter’s pale fog,” or “Drifting Dreams.” Say wha???? The books themselves are fine, but what’s up with these titles?
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Diana Cox You bring up some good points. I just finished this book and the sudden end left me sitting here dumbfounded. It seemed as if the author decided to just wrap it up quickly and be done with it.


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