Publication Date: 12/9/2014
My Rating: 4 Stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.
Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.
Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.
Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.
A special thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant is an emotionally moving and gripping story of a Jewish grandmother, born in the early 1900s, surviving life in Boston in the early 20th century during the women's movement--told with compassion and humor for an engaging multi-generational historical fiction.
At the beginning of the novel Addie Baum, now eighty-five years old, is asked by her twenty-two year old granddaughter, Ave how she became the woman she is today.
Addie begins telling her poignant and honest story growing up with unhappy Russian immigrant parents, and life with her sisters. (Wow, I wish my mom or grandmother would tell me these stories, as when I ask, they do not get into any of these juicy details)!
Addie had a poor and rough childhood coming to America and living in Boston. Things changed when she was a teen with some more positive role models, when she joined a library group which was held at a neighborhood settlement house. We learn about her sisters and a young’s girl’s aspirations and dreams, as her older sister, Betty was constantly fighting with their parents and moves out to become a saleswomen at a department store. (Unheard of in this era, as they were more concerned about getting married, versus going to college or having a career)
Addie learns about Rockport Lodge and goes on vacation at the inn for young girls in a seaside town and is nurtured by Miss Chevalier, where she forms a close friendship with Filomena (loved her) for life. Filomena demonstrated all the new freedom and liberation in store for women with lots of fun stories.
Over the years, Addie experienced tragedies and joys, as she makes her way to womanhood, finding her way from a secretarial job to a newspaper, where she works her way to columnist and finds true love with a labor lawyer, Aaron Metsky, and a career as a social worker and a teacher.
Told from Addie’s POV, The Boston Girl was so much fun, as the descriptions and settings were so vivid, and colorful, making you feel as though you will sitting by the fire, chatting with a cup of tea and a friend; as we see a young girl blossom into a wise woman and her personal journey through the controversial and new and exciting times for women in this era.
A beautiful relationship and special moments between a special grandmother and granddaughter, with intimate meaningful moments of love, work, and relationships.
A huge fan of multi-generational stories of women where we learn the secrets of our grandmothers and generations past. This is my book by Diamant and look forward to reading more, as have heard so much about The Red Tent and Day After Night. Highly recommend for women of all ages.