4 star reviews, 5 star reviews, Book reviews, historical fiction

The Way of Beauty by Camille Di Maio

I received this book from GetRedPR and Lake Union Authors in exchange for my honest review.

I wanted to read this book because my grandmother (my Nauna) came to New York City from Sicily in 1920 as a 17 year old girl.  She came with her brother and she had several sisters already here, but she left her parents and home with no plan of ever returning.  At 17.  She came from a small farming village called Regalbutto.  She didn’t know the language.  She lived with her brother, sister, brother-in-law and neices in a two bedroom apartment on Thompson Street in Greenwich Village.  As a little girl, she told me many stories about that.  She is, of course gone now, tomorrow (May 22, 2018 would be her 115th birthday).  I miss her terribly and my uncle who passed 5 years ago.  There is so much of my family experience that died with them.  Reading books like this, about what it was like for immigrants in Manhattan in the early 1900s brings her back for me a little bit, it’s a little bit like visiting her, appreciating her experience.  Reading books about the 1960s in New York City brings my uncle, who worked as a pharmacist in drug stores in the city, back to me a little bit.  And so I wanted to read this book.  While I was reading it, I was telling my mom about it and she ended up buying it for her Kindle and we discussed this book at length many, many times.

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This book was historic, beautiful, romantic, touching, interesting and compassionate.  My mom threw in compassionate because she was so impressed with how they treated the grandfather.

My mom and I found it to be moderately paced.
Camille Di Maio presented turn of the century New York City in such a way that I felt I was living through those times.  It made me think about how much was done sooo many years ago and how some things haven’t changed. It had historical facts about the building of Penn Station and the people who built it and what was going on in the area/world at that time.  How people lived and shopped.  I loved how involved the characters were in the Women’s Suffrage Movement and learning a bit more about that.

Camille di Maio did a wonderful job writing this story.  She made it seem that she was “telling” the story of a young girl named Vera and her life growing up in NYC while Penn Station was being built.  Her hard working father’s ailments because of his work, the young man she met who made her feel like someone special and how her dreams came true.  Ms. Di Maio  went through the years of Vera’s life and the people she met and the experiences she had, making the reader feel that they were living the experience.  The story goes through Vera’s life in the early 1900’s through to 1963.

Part Two of the book tells the story of Vera’s daughter, Alice, and what NYC was like in the 1940’s and on.  Her romances and experiences and the changes and/or lack of during her lifetime.  It made me think of how far we have come and how much further we, as women, have to go.  It made me realize that although things have changed, they have also stayed the same.

I felt Part One of the book was more stimulating and page turning than Part Two, but would definitely recommend reading this book.

 

I wasn’t too happy with the ending…it sort of left me in the middle of a rain shower.  There was so much going on and then….boom it was over.  I guess I wanted it to continue, and disappointed that it was over, but felt left.  Then I read the Prologue again and felt more closure.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historic fiction, to anyone who loves romance and to anyone who loves New York City and wants to know more about the history of it.IMG_1148

My mom worked in Manhattan from 1960-1967 and she had forgotten all about what Penn Station used to look like before they tore it down to build Madison Square Garden.  She forgot that it had once been beautiful, but that it was no longer really serving the same purpose and the need for an event arena was important for the city.

All in all, we really enjoyed The Way of Beauty and we give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for reading with me, Mom!!

 

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