My recent vacation to Boston was my reason to impulsively add The Boston Girl to my book pile, but the emotional impact of this historical novel was my incentive to tear through the pages. Addie’s voice is breezy, conversational and fluid. The end result is the type of book I could read all in one sitting…if I only had the time. Addie Baum is the Boston girl, who is being interviewed by her granddaughter about her 85-year history. In an effort to explain how she became the woman that she is today, Addie tells the remarkable story of her life in twentieth-century America, a time when women struggled to find their place and improve their situation in a changing world. It was easy to feel like Addie was telling her stories to me personally…
Born to an immigrant Jewish family in 1900, Addie grew up poor and her life was restricted by her parent’s expectations for their three daughters. School was a luxury and not a necessity, and Addie was forced to leave high school to take a job to help support the family. She grew up without parental affection and seemed to disappoint them at every turn. Joining the library group for girls (love that library connection) changed the direction of Addie’s life, giving her self-confidence, mentors, friendship, and introducing her to a world of poetry, napkins and silverware, and art. Addie was unsure about marriage, as her parents were miserable together. Guilt-ridden by the loss of her sister Celia and an unfortunate encounter with a young man, Addie learns about life’s harsh realities at an early age. She becomes a mother, career woman, and ultimately a feminist, during a time when this is a significant feat.
Ultimately, this book presents a compelling portrait of a complex woman, and a engrossing account of immigrant life in the early twentieth century. Diamant delivers a plucky heroine that readers can cheer for!
If you are impressed by The Boston Girl, check out:
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
“A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family’s various catastrophes Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible and underappreciated by most everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days with the frustrations of middle-age and the confusions of youth. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag. With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them, Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outsmart”– Provided by publisher.