It is 1934, 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 1930s 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.
Delaney knew he'd been in the dream before, knew from
the hurting whiteness, the icy needles that closed his eyes, the silence,
the force of the river wind. But knowing it was a dream did not ease
his fear. As before, he waved his bare hands to push through the
whiteness, but as before the whiteness was porous and he knew it was
snow. As before, there was no horizon. As before, his feet floated
through frozen powder. There was no ground beneath him. There
was nothing to grip. No picket fence. No lamppost. And no people.
As before: just the driving force of the snow . . .
Then he was awake in the blue darkness. A sound. A bell. His hand clumsy with sleep, he lifted the black telephone on the night table. Still dead. Someone at the wrought iron gate below the stoop was jerking the old bell rope, making an urgent ding- dinging sound. A sound he had heard too many times. Shivering in cotton summer- time pajamas, he threw off the covers. Ding-...
A romantic historical novel set against an idealized backdrop of 1930s New York, where bad things happen but through a soft-focus lens of nostalgia in which the poor are hardworking and honest with hearts of gold, gangsters have mothers and feelings, and the snow falls softly all around.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (579 words).
Pete Hamill started his career at the New York Post in 1960. He is the author of seven novels and two collections of stories, and his writing has appeared in most national magazines. He has been a columnist for many years, and currently writes for New York's Daily News He lives in New York City with his wife, writer Fukiko Aoki. More at BookBrowse.
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