Excerpt from The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan J. Gilman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

by Susan J. Gilman

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan J. Gilman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2014, 512 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2015, 528 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Let me start back at the beginning, before satellite trucks were parked across the street, blocking my driveway. Before our "Sundaes on Saturdays" campaign, the Mocktail Milkshakes, and Spreckles the Clown. I'll begin on the sweltering Lower East Side of Manhattan, with the peddler with the horse-drawn cart: A rotund, sweating man. Salvatore Dinello. His last name was stenciled on the side of his wagon in flaking red and gold paint. DINELLO'S ICES. He was the last of his kind, really. Most other vendors had already started working for wholesalers by then. Mr. Dinello wore a slouch cap and a brown canvas smock. Instead of shouting like the other hawkers, he sang. "I-SEES, I-SEES." Like an aria. Oh, it was marvelous. I could hear his baritone all the way down Hester Street, above the incredible din.

Dinello's Ices came in lemon and sometimes cherry. They had the consistency of snow. Once, when Flora and I were supposed to be fetching dinner, I bought a scoop for us instead. We de- voured it—cherry, I remember—and our mouths turned lurid, candy red. It was delicious. It was a delirium. But immediately afterward—oh, such guilt we felt! That two cents was supposed to go for a potato. From then on, I tried to keep my distance.

But whenever we were on Hester Street, I'd watch longingly as Mr. Dinello scooped a small, glittering mound into his tiny glass cup for a customer. The customer licked the cup clean, then handed it back to Mr. Dinello, who rinsed it out in a zinc pail dangling from the back of his wagon. He used the same cup for each person. That's just how it was back then.

Our family didn't have a penny when we stepped off the boat. But whose did? The people who arrived in America with money, their stories aren't interesting. So your eldest brother, Lord Such- and-Such, inherited the family estate, and you, Poor Thing, had to make your fortune in the New World instead? Please. Don't even bother me with that.

At the time of my accident, we were living in a tenement on Orchard Street, on the fourth floor in the back. We paid a tailor named Mr. Lefkowitz two dollars a week to let us sleep in his parlor. Mama took cushions from the settee and spread them across a pair of creaky wooden crates. During the day she worked for Mr. Lefkowitz cutting patterns with two other women in the front room in a cloud of airborne fibers.

When he wasn't in the streets himself, Papa worked for Mr. Lefkowitz, too. He pressed shirts with a heavy iron heated up on the stove in the kitchen. When the hot metal hissed against the cotton, it smelled like burnt vanilla. I loved that smell. Years later I tried to re-create it in our laboratory.

My parents worked within seven feet of each other. And yet, they weren't speaking.

Their plan, you see, hadn't been to go to America at all.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from the book The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. Copyright © 2014 by Susan Jane Gilman. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The History of Ice Cream

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tender
    by Belinda McKeon
    Most of us have heard the slightly trite saying: "If you love something, set it free." But one can ...
  • Book Jacket
    All Tomorrow's Parties
    by Rob Spillman
    In this absorbing memoir, co-founder of Tin House magazine, Rob Spillman, recalls his artistic ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

The first book by an American author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    I See You
    by Clare Mackintosh

    A dark and compelling thriller about an everyday woman trapped in the confines of her everyday world.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport

    A masterful retelling of the Russian Revolution from the author of The Romanov Sisters.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

In war there are no unwounded soldiers

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.