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North River

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,308 ratings  ·  678 reviews
Recreating 1930s New York with the vibrancy and rich detail that are his trademarks, Pete Hamill weaves a story of honor, family, and one man's simple courage that no reader will soon forget.

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
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published June 11th 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published June 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,308 ratings  ·  678 reviews

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Elizabeth (Alaska)
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
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
Dec 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Chad Sayban
Mar 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
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
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was surprised that this book did not have a higher Goodreads rating and more readers, as I found it quite lovely. Perhaps I was predisposed to like it since the main character, Dr. James Delaney, reminded me quite strongly of my grandfather, also a World War I veteran and doctor practicing during the Great Depression. Though my own grandfather lived and worked in small town Indiana rather than urban New York, his quiet competence, his strong ties to the community in which he lived and worked, ...more
Miranda Stockton
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
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? ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pete-hamill
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
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Set in the early 1930's in New York, Dr. Jim Delany has returned to his medical practice after serving in and being wounded in World War I. But he feels empty and lonely. His wife has deserted him, and his daughter has eloped with her Mexican husband. His life suddenly changes when he finds his 3 year old grandson on his doorstep--his daughter has gone to find her missing husband. Delany hires an illegal Italian immigrant, Rosa, to act as the child's caregiver while he tends to his practice. Pre ...more
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
North River🍒🍒🍒
By Pete Hamill
Little Brown

Dr Delaney, haunted by memories of war, is a devoted and compassion physician, ministering to many who can not pay, gangsters, prostitutes and gang members.
Living alone after is wife Molly disappears, he returns home one day to find a baby in a basket on his doorstep. A note reveals it is only daughters son, Carlito, she is unable to take care of. Delaney hires a Sicilian woman, Rosa to help with the baby. Carlito and Rosa warm this lonely, sad man in
Lesley Potts
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is like one of those old, Sunday afternoon movies starring Jimmy Stewart or James Cagney. It’s perfectly paced, impeccably acted and totally predictable, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s set in 1930s New York which leaps to life off the page. Although, I imagined this whole book in black and white. Amid all the goings on there’s a passage where Delaney goes to see the Botticelli show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One small paragraph describes what it’s like to see a mu ...more
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
James Delaney, a doctor in the 30s in a so-so section of New York, tells his story which drew me into his lonely world and kept me hoping for happier days. After his return from war, his wife Molly who meant the world to him, becomes disillusioned and walks away, never to be heard from. His daughter, Grace, grew up, married a Mexican revolutionary and is gone.

Not isolated, James has Monique, his nurse in his home-based medical practice. He has friends in the police force and contacts among the
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
If you have read Hamill’s Downtown, you’ll know he constantly refers to the nostalgia imbued into the City, and here in this novel he harkens to the nostalgia of 1930’s NY. While this is a sweet love story between a middle-age Irish doctor and a tough Sicilian woman, Hamill’s approach is a bit heavy-handed with the history and pedantic in the suspense. He also plays it safe with his characters as nothing bad happens to them even though they are surrounded by danger on all sides and the mysteries ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
I like how clearly this novel is situated in time and place, but that's about as far as this novel goes. Sometimes I like novels that are heavy on setting/description and lighter on plot (e.g. Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward), but this didn't cut it in that regard. Plot developments and the revealing of information come at a slow pace, and there's not much in the way of suspense beyond mob and FBI people glaring at Delaney, asking the same questions again and again, and vanishing; threats g ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Christine by: Eileen
When reading this book,I became invested in this family. All the characters were real and believable.
I will read more of the author's work.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pete Hamill really brings his characters to life, and I could vividly see them at this time and place in America.
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
The setting is so interesting. New York City & the Depression. The plot is predictable, but I found myself rooting for the characters.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A warm and affecting portrait of life in lower Manhattan during the depression (1934). Hard to put down. I could see and feel the grittiness of the streets, the docks, the subways and ELs, and the people. My only criticism is that the main characters were too good to be fully believable, including the three-year-old who could come up with only one tiny tantrum in the whole book.
Jul 25, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
I read Pete Hamill books for many reasons, but one is because I love to see how he plays out his adoration for New York City. The city is more than a location for Hamill, it is a character in his writings. The man is in love with the place, its setting, history, people, quirks and sites. Through him, I get glimpses into the New York of the past, in the days before chain stores and globalization. It's one of the main things that keeps me reading Hamill -- he keeps declaring his love, and I keep e ...more
Seth Gurss
Aug 31, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: sethsshelf
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
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Theresa Hale
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
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Pete Hamill was 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 ...more

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