Bittersweet Brooklyn @thelmadams @hfvbt #BlogTour

I have been anticipating this day for so long. I absolutely love blog tours and also get so nervous  excited that I think I’m going to be sick. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that I LOVE this book and I LOVE being part of this amazing tour!
02_Bittersweet Brooklyn[608]In turn-of-the century New York, a mobster rises—and his favorite sister struggles between loyalty and life itself. How far will she go when he commits murder? Flipping the familiar script of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Godfather, Bittersweet Brooklyn explores the shattering impact of mob violence on the women expected to mop up the mess. Winding its way over decades, this haunting family saga plunges readers into a dangerous past—revealed through the perspective of a forgotten yet vibrant woman.

Of all of the historical eras in US history, the turn of the century, 1880 to the pre-Depression time period, is far and above my favorite. There was so much growth, expansion, building, beauty, architecture, immigration from all over the world. People, ideas, morals, food, clothing all were changing so quickly that it was nearly impossible to keep up with it all. But, as with any time in history, the glamour often over shadows the truth and the truth is that this particular era also was a time of great pain – growing pains, if you will – that led to heartbreak, hunger, poverty, racism, bigotry, mobs, gangsters and worse.

Bittersweet Brooklyn is a dark story but a beautifully, poignant one. Its noir narrative portrays the lifestyle of so many who came to the US full of dreams and hopes only to find that life was as hard in the US as it was in the country they left. Many, however, had no choice except to flee their home country due to pogroms and death camps and war. It’s not too terribly different today, if at all. There are struggles to survive, struggles to fit in, to find one’s place and where there is no “welcome committee,” those holes will be filled with other means generally unsavory ones like the mob or gangs. That is what has happened in Bittersweet Brooklyn. These immigrants, like so many of that time, have familial issues, mental health issues and the mob has come in to “take care of them,” but at a cost. Generally, the men make a mess, and by mess I mean wreak murder and mayhem, and the women are left to sweep up the pieces. It tears at the fabric of their family cloth and at the essence of the women in their lives. This is how life was. For many it is how life still is. Adams has done an incredible job of painting a very vivid picture of what life was like, real life, real families, during this time period. That isn’t to say that the book is all doom and darkness because it is not, any more than Charles Dickens’ books are all dark. But Bittersweet Brooklyn does portray a truthful story and that is rare and greatly needed in historical fiction and I, for one, am appreciative.

Adams has, in fact, previously been been compared to a modern day Charles Dickens.

“Thelma Adams is our new Dickens in her effervescently vivid tale of Jewish hardscrabble living, gangsters, torn-apart families, and a young woman desperate for love, family, and a stable future. Set in a 1920s and 30s Brooklyn so rich, raw, and bristling with life that you can taste the brine on the deli pickles and see the flasks of whiskey hidden in a garter, this is the kind of novel that’s lived, rather than read.” — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

 I happen to agree with Leavitt. Just as Dickens gave a sober look at Victorian England with its orphanages and wealth disparity, so too has Adams lifted back the curtain on turn-of-the-century America and exposed the dark underbelly so rarely seen or examined. Well done, Thelma Adams, well done!

You can find this incredible book at the following locations:

AMAZON/ BARNESANDNOBLE

Thelma Adams, Author portraits.  Photo credit: Emily AssiranAbout the Author
Thelma Adams is the author of the best selling historical novel The Last Woman Standing and Playdate, which Oprah magazine described as “a witty debut novel.” In addition to her fiction work, Adams is a prominent American film critic and an outspoken voice in the Hollywood community. She has been the in-house film critic for Us Weekly and The New York Post, and has written essays, celebrity profiles and reviews for Yahoo! Movies, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Parade, Marie Claire and The Huffington Post. Adams studied history at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was valedictorian, and received her MFA from Columbia University. She lives in upstate New York with her family.
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AND THE BLOG CONTINUES…

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Thank you so much to Amy at #HFVBTPartner, #ThelmaAdams and @LUauthors for my copy of this fascinating book!

 

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House of Gold by @NatashaSolomons

House of Gold is a sweeping saga of the Goldbaum family during World War One and the events leading up to the great war.

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I am finding myself reading more and more historical fiction often for the actual history that is included in the books. Some of these authors have done extensive research on fashion, important families and, most importantly, the events of the era about which they are writing. Natasha Solomons’ House of Gold is no exception. Based on the Rothschild family, the Goldbaums are one of, if not, the wealthiest families of Europe. They are the bankers, financiers and confidants of the most influential politicians and land owners. Specifically, House of Gold follows the branches of the family in Austria, Germany, France and England just prior to WW1. The story primarily is told by Greta, from Austria, and her brother Otto. Greta is married off to a distant cousin in England. As the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand occurs, the branches of the family are severed with the families in Eastern Europe cut off from those in the west.

In the first portion of the book, Solomons delves deep into the opulence of this wealthy family – their parties, their castles, their travels throughout Europe in their specially designed train car. Once Greta is settled into England, we then extensively learn about the elaborate gardens and greenhouses created by both Greta and her mother in law. These garden descriptions are, in fact, based on the Rothschild’s famous gardens in Europe. Ultimately, however, the latter portion of the book covers the war and the division of the family. I was stunned at the great detail that Solomons took in her description of the war. I could read historical text after text and never quite get the emotional turmoil that she evokes with her recounting of these characters’ fate during the war. This portion of the book, alone, is reason enough to read House of Gold.

Overall, I found House of the Gold to be one of the best books in this genre that I’ve read. The details are well researched, the character development amazing. However, as with all historical texts or fiction, the author will bring with them their own slant to the events that they are telling. This particular book really pushed home the rise of anti-Semitism and, unfortunately, not everything was historically accurate from that perspective. There was a lot of anti-Russian sentiment brought into play that really did not occur in Europe in WWI but was more a part of the post WW1 era and leading up to, of course, WWII. It’s important to remember, always, that Russia was part of the western alliance during both world wars and suffered the greatest casualty count, greater even than that of France. This story would lead you to believe that Russia was the enemy to the west. Not so. I also did not realize before I read the book that it would be intricately  tied to the Rothschild family. Call me a crazy American, and I am, but I truly despise that particular family and its global machinations. Every time I would begin to sympathize with one of the characters, I would pull myself back again because it’s really the Rothschilds that are being described and I couldn’t care less what their fate might have been and, in reality, I know the ultimate end result and their role in the world today. IF the book had solely dealt with a fictional affluent family and there had been no reference to the Rothschilds, I would have enjoyed the book to its fullest. Again, it’s the crazy American in me and perhaps other people may not have a problem with this.

If you can read the book as a totally fictional account of a totally fictional family, then it is an amazing read. I did enjoy the book and I do recommend it, I just had to overlook a few elements in order to do so.

My thanks to Natasha Solomons, #Edelweiss and #GPPutnamsSons and #PenguinPublishingGroup for my copy of this fascinating tale.