Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 book 84

Susan Jane Gilman's The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
Gilman's first novel (after Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, among other non-fiction) is RIGHT up my alley. It's about one Lillian Dunkle, the Ice Cream Queen, mired in scandals in the 1980s, and narrating her life story from the 1910s, when she was a little Russian-Jewish immigrant girl. Then she gets trampled by a horse and subsequently adopted by its owner, an Italian ice salesman. I love stories about immigrants in this period of New York history, and I ESPECIALLY love reading about ice cream, so this was basically the greatest. Lillian is sympathetic and repellent in equal measures, and Gilman displays a sly sense of humor here.  It manages to be both a skewering of corporate culture and excess across the decades and a moving novel about an immigrant making her way in America. Parts of it are a little slow and I felt like a couple of minor plot points went unresolved, but on the whole, this was pretty excellent. A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in June.

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