Tracy Riva's Reviews > A Gypsy in New York

A Gypsy in New York by Juliette De Bairacli Levy
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Jul 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: herbal-resource, healing, alternative-healing, history, travel
Read in July, 2011

A Gypsy in New York
By Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Copyright 2011 Juliette de Bairacli Levy, Copyright 2011 Ash Tree Publishing
Published by Ash Tree Publishing P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498
ISBN 978-1-888123-08-1 $21.95

When I first heard the title of this book, A Gypsy in New York,/i>, I thought to myself, how can one be a gypsy in New York of all places? Juliette de Bairacli Levy brings the life of the modern gypsy in that great city to vivid life. She tells of the places and tenements the gypsies of NY used to inhabit, of their tent villages and she tells of her search to find them again after the areas where they used were gone, victims of urban renewal and growth.

She speaks of how the gypsies of NY spend the winters in the apartments of New York, always as close to the ground floor as they can possibly get. She speaks of gypsy magic and gypsy fortune tellers, and even of how she herself learned to read palms.

She mentions the small size of the gypsy population in Manhattan at that time, around 3,000 and one can only imagine how difficult it must have been to try to locate so small a population in so vast a space.

Her writing is divine, her prose inspired. Even when she is discussing something as mundane as the filth of sidewalks her descriptive gift vividly calls the image to life for you. As she paints the image of skyscrapers and old buildings being torn down so new, box-like towering buildings lacking all character can be put in their place you can not only see the buildings in your mind’s eye, but you can feel the sense of loss she feels over the loss of beauty and history.

She speaks of the problems of the city: the constant noise, the lack of clean air, the lack of open spaces where one can get plenty of sunshine, the disadvantages of buildings overheated by steam heat and of going from the heat of the buildings to the cold and back again sometimes several times a day. She speaks of trying to keep the bulbs and buds of newly flowering houseplants warm in the apartment she was living in because the heat was turned off overnight and the temperature outside could get below zero in the winter.

She speaks of her plants and herbal remedies. She speaks of learning new ones and seeing ones she already used in a book in a gypsy tea room on “green magic”. She vividly brings to mind a simpler, perhaps wiser time where she and others first turned to nature for their remedies rather than running to the doctor’s office. Her book is a cornucopia of plant folklore and uses. It is an irreplaceable resource.

I highly recommend A Gypsy in New York> for its herbal treasures, colorful prose and historical perspective of a city that is an American icon.
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