Fic­tion

City of God: A Nov­el of Pas­sion and Won­der in Old New York

Bev­er­ly Swerling
  • Review
By – September 16, 2011
This is a fas­ci­nat­ing fic­tion­al account of life in New York City from 1834 to 1857, the years lead­ing up to the Civ­il War. We learn about med­i­cine, real estate, the ship­ping busi­ness, opi­um trade, and the Chi­nese immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty through the sto­ries of two notable and inter­twined New York fam­i­lies. The author wrote about pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of the Turn­er and the Devrey fam­i­lies in Shad­ow­brook, City of Dreams, and City of Glo­ry, but you needn’t have read those books to enjoy this one. A Jew­ish fam­i­ly plays a sig­nif­i­cant role in this tale as well. There is an abun­dance of inter­est­ing detail about the noto­ri­ous Belle­vue Hos­pi­tal, Protestant/​Catholic rela­tions, and the dis­cov­ery of germs and anes­the­sia. The author weaves togeth­er his­to­ry, romance, and cul­ture into a book that is hard to put down. There is an exten­sive fam­i­ly tree for clar­i­fi­ca­tion. A map would have been helpful.
Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams is a Cuban-born, Brook­lyn-raised, Long Island-resid­ing mom. She is Hadas­sah Nas­sau’s One Region One Book chair­la­dy, a free­lance essay­ist, and a cer­ti­fied yoga instruc­tor who has loved review­ing books for the JBC for the past ten years.

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