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Tomorrow Will Be Better

by Betty Smith

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3001086,403 (3.67)13
Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

"A rediscovered treasure." ‚?? Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post

From Betty Smith, author of the beloved classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, comes a poignant story of love, marriage, poverty, and hope set in 1920s Brooklyn.

Tomorrow Will Be Better tells the story of Margy Shannon, a shy but joyfully optimistic young woman just out of school who lives with her parents and witnesses how a lifetime of hard work, poverty, and pain has worn them down. Her mother's resentment toward being a housewife and her father's inability to express his emotions result in a tense home life where Margy has no voice. Unable to speak up against her overbearing mother, Margy takes refuge in her dreams of a better life.

Her goals are simple‚??to find a husband, have children, and live in a nice home‚??one where her children will never know the terror of want or the need to hide from quarreling parents. When she meets Frankie Malone, she thinks her dreams might be fulfilled, but a devastating loss rattles her to her core and challenges her life-long optimism. As she struggles to come to terms with the unexpected path her life has taken, Margy must decide whether to accept things as they are or move firmly in the direction of what she truly wants.

Rich with the flavor of its Brooklyn background, and filled with the joys and heartbreak of family life, Tomorrow Will Be Better is told with a simplicity, tenderness, and warmhearted humor that only Betty Smith could wr… (more)

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English (8)  Italian (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I enjoy reading books describing life in earlier times. In this case it is the 1920's Brooklyn, NY. I didn't enjoy this one as much as Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn though. ( )
  Suem330 | Dec 28, 2023 |
This book should be read by everyone under thirty who is contemplating marriage for the first time. I thought it absolutely brilliant and inspiring. It charts a young woman's growth from romantic innocence to the mature recognition that only she is in charge of her life. It is unflinching about the pain we cause one another, even inadvertently, and the lack of options for the working-class.

I was reminded by a review below to mention the scene at the Chinese laundry. So often these days classic books are derided for their lack of sensitivity towards people of color, but this book challenges that assumption. Frankie, too, is a character who is described with great sensitivity. ( )
  PatsyMurray | Jun 25, 2021 |
fiction, American literature, ebook
  chrisac | Jun 23, 2021 |
This was a serious story, but with such entertaining characters, you can feel sad and laugh at the same time.

The book was about the marriage of Margy Shannon and Frankie Malone, a marriage that never should have happened. In fact, that goes for every marriage in the story, no romance novel here. Margy Shannon's parents were two sparring opponents, who took their bitter frustrations out on each other. Henny was never the success he thought he'd be and felt trapped, while Flo had such a bad childbirth experience she stopped sleeping with her husband. Their situation should have been a warning to Margy to look before you leap, but because of her desire to escape from home she leaped at the chance to marry Frankie, whom she had only know a short time. Frankie's home life was no bed of roses either, and he was also tired of his flashy flapper girlfriend, Irma (this was set in the 1920's)and thought sweet, quiet Margy a refreshing change.

Betty Smith lets you know from the start that there are troubles ahead, in the scene at the neighborhood dance, where an overheard conversation leads to an emotional exchange which makes them both believe they're right for each other, though they couldn't be more wrong.

Like I said, this story is serious, but it has its funny moments, like when Frankie first meets Margy's parents, when Margy and Frankie tell Mr. and Mrs. Malone they're engaged,and when their dads, along with his sister's boyfriend, take Frankie for a boy's night out before the wedding.

All too soon, Margy and Frankie both realize their marriage isn't what they thought it would be and things go downhill fast, especially when Margy discovers Frankie doesn't feel much physical desire for her, and she in turn, doesn't enjoy sleeping with him, and finds herself thinking about her former boss, Mr. Preston, who couldn't hide his interest in her. He was no romantic hero by a longshot, an unassertive mama's boy in his mid thirties, still living at home, looking out for his widowed mother who takes terrible advantage of him, and thinks she's still a flirty young girl, instead of a selfish, middle aged woman.

There are two pregnancies in the story: Margy's best friend, Renee, whose boyfriend doesn't marry her right away, using his parents' disapproval as an excuse (they have different religions), and Margy herself, who hopes the baby will bring her and Frankie closer together. Only one has a happy outcome.

There's a memorable scene in a Chinese laundry that has nothing to do with the story, but was put in to make a strong point about ethnic stereotypes and under estimating people, as well as a nostalgic flashback involving Renee and her mom, that has a twist at the end.

Another one is when Margy speaks her mind to not only Frankie, but both sets of parents, and gives them quite a bit to think about.

Okay, I've said enough; read this book, you won't be disappointed. ( )
  EmeraldAngel | Jun 3, 2021 |
My goodness this book is sad. Not necessarily because a lot of bad things happen, but simply because none of the characters (except maybe Reenie?) end the book happy. The characters started unfulfilled and end the book in the exact same condition. In some ways, I loved that about it, since I really felt the melancholy of being poor in 1920s Brooklyn acutely while I was reading. Smith does a good job of painting different shades of discontent and coping mechanisms in a way that induces empathy rather than pity. But, I can't imagine re-reading this any time soon. It just leaves you with a feeling of almost hopelessness that was hard to take. ( )
  Jthierer | Dec 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Spes fovet et fore cras semper ait melius

Hope ever urges on, and tells us tomorrow will be better.
Tibullus, Carmina. II. 6, 20.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

"A rediscovered treasure." ‚?? Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post

From Betty Smith, author of the beloved classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, comes a poignant story of love, marriage, poverty, and hope set in 1920s Brooklyn.

Tomorrow Will Be Better tells the story of Margy Shannon, a shy but joyfully optimistic young woman just out of school who lives with her parents and witnesses how a lifetime of hard work, poverty, and pain has worn them down. Her mother's resentment toward being a housewife and her father's inability to express his emotions result in a tense home life where Margy has no voice. Unable to speak up against her overbearing mother, Margy takes refuge in her dreams of a better life.

Her goals are simple‚??to find a husband, have children, and live in a nice home‚??one where her children will never know the terror of want or the need to hide from quarreling parents. When she meets Frankie Malone, she thinks her dreams might be fulfilled, but a devastating loss rattles her to her core and challenges her life-long optimism. As she struggles to come to terms with the unexpected path her life has taken, Margy must decide whether to accept things as they are or move firmly in the direction of what she truly wants.

Rich with the flavor of its Brooklyn background, and filled with the joys and heartbreak of family life, Tomorrow Will Be Better is told with a simplicity, tenderness, and warmhearted humor that only Betty Smith could wr

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