Recreating S New York With The Vibrancy And Rich Detail That Are His Trademarks, Pete Hamill Weaves A Story Of Honor, Family, And One Man S Simple Courage That No Reader Will Soon ForgetIt Is , And New York City Is In The Icy Grip Of The Great Depression With Enormous Compassion, Dr James Delaney Tends To His Hurt, Sick, And Poor Neighbors, Who Include Gangsters, Day Laborers, Prostitutes, And Housewives If They Can T Pay, He Treats Them Anyway But In His Own Life, Delaney Is Emotionally Numb, Haunted By The Slaughters Of The Great War His Only Daughter Has Left For Mexico, And His Wife Molly Vanished Months Before, Leaving Him To Wonder If She Is Alive Or Dead Then, On A Snowy New Year S Day, The Doctor Returns Home To Find His Three Year Old Grandson On His Doorstep, Left By His Mother In Delaney S Care Coping With This Unexpected Arrival, Delaney Hires Rose, A Tough, Decent Sicilian Woman With A Secret In Her Past Slowly, As Rose And The Boy Begin To Care For The Good Doctor, The Numbness In Delaney Begins To Melt Recreating S New York With The Vibrancy And Rich Detail That Are His Trademarks, Pete Hamill Weaves A Story Of Honor, Family, And One Man S Simple Courage That No Reader Will Soon Forget I ve never read anything by this man before My father was born in Hell s Kitchen, I myself grew up on the NY streets, and I was curious to see how Hamill portrays this very interesting depression era From what I can glean, it s historically accurate, and while I don t particularly care for this guy s style I have to admit I got a thrill reading about my territory In fact, I wanted like, WHERE on 18th Street It s a good, fast paced novel, and Hamill makes his reader care about his characters I may now become hooked on Hamill My father would have loved it. With rich characters and a treatment of setting that drops you into time and place perfectly, it s hard to see what some readers aren t liking about this book I guess they were hoping for something plot driven with big twists or some kind of wild climax I suspect they are hoping for something either darkly noir or, conversely, a much lighter conventional romance Instead, they get something that stays in the real space between a story with people who are exceptional but still believable, a plot that consistently maintains light suspense and has a good story arc that eschews pat solutions to life s intractable problems.The central character is Delaney, an aging doctor who lost the wife he loved under mysterious circumstances, carries the physical and emotional scars of WWI, and has an adult daughter who has gone a bit astray He s a real keystone in his neighborhood, the doctor who makes house calls and does his best to clean up other people s messes As the novel opens, his daughter leaves her son on Delaney s doorstep to go in search of his father in pre revolution Spain Rose Verga, a woman in her late 30s, moves in with Delaney to help him take care of the tot, Carlito, and the three of them begin to form familial bonds, but with all of their unresolved issues, plus those of class and culture, plus some awkward involvement with local criminals, blocking their connection Along the way, you get great conflicts and details of Delaney s Hell s Kitchen neighborhood, the waning days of Tammany Hall politics, and the uncomfortable connection between gangsters and the people who live among them It s a rich story that doesn t take any missteps Apparently I have to catch up on Pete Hamill, because I really loved this book. More reviews at The Story Within The StoryNew York City of the mid 1930s is in the grips of the Great Depression and Dr James Delaney is alone with his work While he tends to the sick and injured all around his neighborhood, his daughter has left for Mexico and his unforgiving wife has vanished But when Delaney returns home one snowy night, he finds his three year old grandson in front of his house with a note from his daughter Overwhelmed, Delaney hires a tough Sicilian woman named Rose to take care of the boy Can he make things work as he is caught in the middle of a mob war, abject poverty around him and Rose s own secrets And will his daughter one day return and take the only people holding his life together Rose and his grandson away from himIn the gray morning, wrapped in his bathrobe, he pushed aside the life within the house and glanced through the newspapers 400,000 on relief in New York, Hitler ranting in Germany, fighting in China, a volcano erupting in Mexico There was a photograph of the erupting mountain with a peasant in the foreground, dressed in white pajamas and sandals and holding a machete You missed this, Grace You missed the volcano What paintings it might have inspired I always thought that you had married Mexico even than Santos You were not a communist You were an artist Or so I thought And never saidNorth River is very much a period piece, placed deep inside the parochial neighborhood setting of the urban New York City between the wars The flappers of the 1920 s are long gone and the reality of the Great Depression is stark and depressing However, while Hamill makes sure to describe the poverty and anger of the time, he doesn t overdo it He mixes in some beauty and happiness that immerses us in a very real NYC that none of us were alive to experience It echoes some of the trials we are going through in our present day challenges, but it also makes you appreciate just how much worse things were then Hamill does a wonderful job of fleshing out Dr Delaney as well as all of the other characters in North River Each one of them is meticulously created and artfully brought to life Hamill is obviously a master of bringing characters into a reality However, the story itself takes a very long time to develop We are nearly halfway into the book before any real tension begins to form In addition, the threats to Delaney never feel all that threatening, and the resolution at the end was pretty underwhelming But the story really isn t as much about the events as it is about the characters North River is not written as much as it is woven into a comfortable read Ultimately, North River is a good story, with some interesting characters set in a thoroughly detailed reconstruction of 1930 s New York City If you are looking for a character driven period piece, North River may provide you an enjoyable trip into the lives of that place and era At the very least, Hamill s writing is itself a joy. I was surprised that this book did not have a higher Goodreads rating and readers, as I found it quite lovely Perhaps I was predisposed to like it since the main character, Dr James Delaney, reminded me quite strongly of my grandfather, also a World War I veteran and doctor practicing during the Great Depression Though my own grandfather lived and worked in small town Indiana rather than urban New York, his quiet competence, his strong ties to the community in which he lived and worked, and his compassion for those who could not pay were all mirrored in Dr James Delaney Additionally, we meet Dr Delaney when he is living alone, quietly enduring the mysterious disappearance of his wife with a stoic courage that also reminded me of my grandfather, who was widowed quite young The reader and Dr Delaney do eventually find out what happened to his wife I recommend this book to you, Goodreads friends, even if it doesn t remind you of your own grandfather It is a solidly satisfying story set in descriptively drawn old New York Residents of the doctor s neighborhood once called the Hudson the North River, hence, the book s title The book will be living on my keeper shelf for some time to come, so those of you I know personally may borrow it as long as you promise to give it back Reviews can bounce between extremes depending upon the reviewers It helps to find someone who shares similar taste and that you know that if they like a book, you will most likely enjoy it as well Oddly enough, this person for me is Tom Hanks Yes, the actor Tom Hanks I subscribe to his myspace blog because usually in the Fall he posts the books that he read over the summer and includes commentary His taste is eclectic, and has caused me to read books I might not have picked up otherwise Tom Hanks read North River in what he calls the luckiest he has been this year, reading it in a mountain cabin, in the rain, all alone except for his dog He also said that after finishing it, he ordered all of Pete Hamill s books That was good enough for me And once again, I agree with him This was my first Pete Hamill book Reviewers are saying that Forever is much better, so I am really looking forward to reading it since I loved this book so much Many reviewers have given a synopsis of the story, so I will refrain I will say, however, that when it comes to creating a setting and ambience, I can t imagine a better writer He totally created a post WWII New York for me assailing the senses with imagery of snowstorms, the Hudson North River, familiar songs of the era, etc This was my parents generation, and remembrances of our lives together in the 50 s hint at the truth of his descriptions Some of it was not pleasant to remember, such as the way women were viewed as chattel and my Irish American mother s acceptance of wife beating as normal and pedestrian It was still prevalent when I was a little girl You can sometimes hear Lucy saying Now, don t hit me, Ricky on I Love Lucy it was accepted Also, though, there was a sense of community People knew their neighbors and looked in on them Even simple details, such as Hamill describing orange peels floating on the river rings true People ate fruit in the way of a treat during the Depression and I could see he put so much thought into the authenticity of his descriptions This book had romance but wasn t drippya hint of happily ever after without the easy wrap up Tom Hanks felt the characters would shine in any decade and I agree They are fleshed out and admirable, people you would want to know, even some of the mobsters I really look forward to reading Pete Hamill First, though I m reading two of the other choices from Tom s summer reading, Quentins by Maeve Binchy and Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk I m a little surprised that people didn t give North River high markswhich leads me back to the importance of finding a reviewer you trust that has similar taste Odd though it may be, my reading compass is Tom Hanks I hope he continues to share his reading lists for a long time This book is a must read for any one who lived and loved in Brooklyn after the war Pete Hamill has a way of writing that makes you feel as if you are a part of the story Fantastic read. Pete Hamill s book, North River is peopled by a cast of Runyonesque type characters who should be both colorful and interesting, but, somehow, come across in this story a little flat Perhaps that was a reflection of the times the 1930 s, at the height of the Depression.I love New York City, and reading about its history The only thing I seemed to learn about New York from this novel, however, is that Washington Square was once a potter s field I didn t know that.I seem to remember enjoying both the story and the larger than life characters in Pete Hamill s fable about New York Forever Now I ll need to read his, Snow in August to better decide if I am really a fan or not Recommendation North River as a moderately good read, but Forever is much better. This book was strange for me It was interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading it, but when I finished I realized it wasn t really that good I think the problem for me was that the book seemed like it was leading up to something really big I kept waiting and waiting for it, but it turned out to be extremely anti climatic. It was OK But what I was looking for was typical Hamill gritty and sharp And the first couple of chapters led me to believe I was going to get just that But then the story devolved almost to the point of being a Chick Book with nice, safe, predictable characters and an ending to match One thing even off putting than the story s predictability was Hamill s obvious respect for the Tammany Hall machine that still had power in the early 30s I don t think I ve ever heard Tammany Hall referred to without the adjective corrupt , yet Hamill presents these characters with respect Also, while his protagonist debates over accepting much needed money from a mobster whose life he s helped save, he doesn t bat an eye when offered largess, time and again, as a result of his and his father s connections with Tammany Hall bosses.
Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for than forty years He was born in Brooklyn, N Y in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland He attended Catholic schools as a child He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy While serving in t
- 352 pages
- North River
- Pete Hamill
- 09 August 2018 Pete Hamill