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Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano

Elizabeth Street (original 2006; edition 2011)

by Laurie Fabiano

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4202025,247 (3.79)17
Title:Elizabeth Street
Authors:Laurie Fabiano
Info:Mariner Books (2011), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2012, fiction

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Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano (2006)



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One Italian family's immigrant experience in New York, mostly seen through the eyes of matriarch, Giovanna. ( )
  ewillse | Jan 18, 2016 |
I thought this an interesting read about the Italian immigrant experience at the turn of the 20th century--even more so once I realized it is based on the author's personal family history. As her great grandparent’ small village in Italy becomes impoverished, they choose to emigrate to NYC. Fabiano writes a compelling tale of the events leading up to the decision to come to America, the voyage across the ocean, the struggle to find employment in the face of prejudice against Italian immigrants, and then their suffering from extortion by "The Black Hand" (early Mafioso). I was particularly taken by the details of the entry via Ellis Island as well as the devastation of the Messina Earthquake of 1909. The book was a bit choppy because of shifts from the early 20th century storyline to modern day at times, but not enough to detract from the dominant storyline. ( )
  Bluebird1 | Jan 16, 2016 |
I have mixed feelings about this one. This book is a fictionalized account of the author's own family history and indeed, with a kidnapping as the central drama, its a more interesting family history than most. And I do love an inter-generational family history. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading until the end and Giovanna herself is a formidable character. She must have been an amazing person in real life.

That said, the book suffers from a few different problems. The shifting perspectives between the narrator and Giovanna's story seem to be there to add drama and some tension, but they don't do much to actually drive the story forward and we're never quite sure what drives the present-day narrator to investigate her own family history. The central story of the kidnapping, while interesting, resolves much in the way that we'd expect--the family pays ransom and finally secures Angelina's release, so the suspense, conflict, and tension largely has to come from Giovanna's role. The writing isn't bad, per se, but its not particularly engaging and struggles with finding the right tone and voice, making it rely too much on dialog to do the heavy lifting of moving the story forward.. Another reviewer said that the *feeling* of New York never really comes across to the reader and I'd agree. Despite the urban grittiness of turn-of-the-century New York, we never do get a feeling for the city outside of Giovanna's perceptions. I would have also liked to see more historical context--how does this family's story fit into what we know about Italian immigration? How does it change our perceptions of Italian immigrants? Perhaps widening the cast of characters or inserting the perspective of an omniscient narrator would have helped make the story a bit more complex and help it connect with some bigger themes. ( )
  lisamunro | Oct 26, 2014 |
This was an eye-opening look at what southern Italian immigrants faced when they came to America in the early 1900's. A very good read! ( )
1 vote Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
(11) This was a Kindle Lenders Library Book for me - which I am learning means 'not so good.' This was genre fiction. A melodramatic portrayal of the life of Italian immigrants to NYC in the early 1900's. This story was based on the true story of the author's grandmothers kidnapping by the 'Black Hand' which was the precursors to the mafia. So in that respect - interesting; but the author despite being well-researched writes very pedestrian prose.

So the good -- easy reading and interesting subject matter as my Italian relatives emigrated around the same time except landed in New England. And the bad is as above. I loved books like these when I was in my teens and 20's but I am now looking for more artistry.

Sigh. As irresistible as a free book a month is - I am almost to the point of bailing on the 'Lenders Library.' A generous 3 stars due to my Italian ancestry! ( )
1 vote jhowell | Apr 28, 2014 |
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Giovanna Costa, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life for herself at the turn of the twentieth century in New York City's Little Italy.

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