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The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by…
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The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

by Susan Jane Gilman

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4573337,848 (3.66)15
In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street. Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen" -- doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality. Lillian's rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.… (more)

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English (32)  German (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
3.5 - Why aren't there 1/2 stars here?

I liked it - I just didn't love it. Liked the "history" of it, but had a problem loving the main character, Malka/Lillian. She was strong, funny, but annoying at times - most times. The story did keep me interested and kept me reading. ( )
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
It's a fascinating novel that begins with a family of Russian Jews emigrating to America, the land of golden opportunity. It follows the life of Malka, one of the children in this family, as she navigates the horrific tenement style poverty of early 1900's New York City. Her parents are a disaster, both as a couple and as a mother and father. Malka manages to survive them and become successful in the ice cream world.
She's not always an easy person to like, but one can easily see how her circumstances shaped her. Malka is both naive, hopeful, finally learning to be self protective, and I loved her journey. ( )
  a1stitcher | Sep 25, 2019 |
Told in a first person narrative, Lillian Dunkle’s story is mesmerizing. It spans from a conned change of a ticket from Africa to NYC to a rejected childhood and being raised by an Italian family after a horse runs over her. This family makes ice cream and our heroine’s life spans 70 yrs on the business along with her husband Bert. Lillian is irreverent, profane, indomitable and a delight. I enjoyed her story very much. ( )
  Smits | Aug 23, 2019 |
Don’t fall for the "chick lit” cover. This is a smart,sad, engrossing story about a brilliant and complicated (often unlikeable) woman that will most likely get overlooked due to the cheesy cover.

A rags- to- riches historical fiction, of a Russian Jewish immigrant, Malka Treynovsky, a determined six-year old girl from a VERY poor childhood, set in 1913 New York City.

An exciting journey and fate of one driven, complicated, determined, yet colorful and troubled protagonist ----- encountering misfortune on her way to the dream she yearns for, and then some. .
Within three months of arriving in New York, her Papa abandons her, and her mother blames her for their misfortune-- Malka gets trampled by a horse, leaving her crippled (of no use to her mother). Abandoned by her parents, fate steps in---the man steering the horse takes pity on Malka, taking her into his home and world, where she becomes part of the family business (Italian ices).

This poor, unattractive, smart, yet sarcastic and crippled Malka soaks up everything from Catholicism, and embraces the family business, while at the same time excels at school, and her life begins to change drastically for the better. Fueled by her grief and abandonment, she begins to redefine herself as Lillian, The Ice Cream Queen of America.

And that’s just the beginning……
( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Jul 25, 2019 |
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman is, on the surface, the story of Malka Treynovsky aka Lillian Dunkle, matriarch of an ice cream empire. Once known as the Ice Cream Queen, host of a popular Saturday kids show, she is a prickly old lady when the story opens, facing jail time for tax evasion and sparring with her family. Behind the scenes, Lillian is nothing like the kindly host of the show. She is brutally honest, often a little drunk, and her paranoia keeps her from ever seeing her own success. That complexity kept the book from being a typical rag to riches story.

The setting of the book also adds interest. New York in the early 1900s through the Second World War mostly in New York but also along the byways of America where Lillian and her husband Bert drive their ice cream truck, using their special formula to create a unique blend. I had not known about the role ice cream played for the military in WW II, as a special treat for the troops who were served by ice cream barges.

It probably gets that same 3.85: not the best book but not bad. There were times when I wanted to slap the main character but maybe that was part of the author's intention. ( )
  witchyrichy | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This entertaining novel underscores how the whole debate about whether female novelists and their female characters face a greater burden to be “likable,” sparked by the novels and thoughts of Claire Messud, Meg Wolitzer and others last year, is beside the point. Lillian Dunkle is sometimes sympathetic, sometimes reprehensible, but always fascinating. And that, darlings, is all that matters in telling a good story.
added by ozzer | editDallas News, JENNY SHANK (Jun 28, 2014)
 
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For Steve Blumental & Frank McCort
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We'd been in America just three months when the horse ran over me.
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