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The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

by Susan Jane Gilman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4613641,722 (3.68)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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» See also 15 mentions

English (35)  German (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
A story that is quite light and enjoyable to listen to, read by its author. Lots of interesting anecdotes on immigrant lifestyle and the chutzpah required to make it in the new world. I did enjoy the smart-ass style of the narrator/protagonist. ( )
  moukayedr | Sep 5, 2021 |
This was a good one. The character development was on point, and I could feel the character's personality off the page. ( )
  Abiquail | Apr 24, 2021 |
I really liked the main character thru most of the book until the last quarter. She was amazing in her ability to find ways to survive her childhood, her ways of not letting her disability stop her or make others assist her, her care and love for her husband, and her strength in running the company. Loved the descriptions of starting and running an ice cream empire along with surviving the depression. Initially I understood Lilly's desire to be better than her former family's company and wanting to prove it. After she became rich, I could not agree with her ways. Actually felt sorry for her when she met up with her Dad. ( )
  kshydog | Dec 13, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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