Excerpt from City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

City of Dreams

A Novel of Early Manhattan

by Beverly Swerling

City of Dreams
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2001, 591 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 592 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


She left. Lucas checked the contents of his surgeon's case. A dozen ties made of sheep's intestines. Three scalpels of different sizes, a couple of saws, a needle threaded with catgut, and, for stone cutting, a fluted probe and a pair of pincers with a jointed handle that could be opened to the width of four spread fingers.

The sound of flies buzzing in the sun beyond the window was the only noise. The man in the bed gritted his teeth against the agony and said nothing, just kept looking at Lucas. Lucas looked back. Finally Anna Stuyvesant returned. "Hot water, you said, and clean cloths and a bucket. It's all here."

"Thank you." Lucas stood up and removed his jacket. He began rolling up the sleeves of his shirt. "Now, mijnheer, may I assist you from the bed?"

"Yes, but first...Anna, go. Leave us alone."

"I do not like to go, Peter. If you should -- "

"This is nothing for a woman to see. Go." And after she had gone, "Very well, barber, let's get this over with. If you hand me my stick I can -- " Stuyvesant broke off, gritted his teeth against another wave of the pain. "Do it," he whispered finally. "I don't care how much it hurts or for how long. For the love of God, man, do it now."

"Forty-five seconds," Lucas promised again. "From the first cut. I swear it."

He helped Stuyvesant hobble to the chest beside the window. The governor leaned forward, taking his weight on his elbows as Lucas directed. In fact Lucas would have preferred that his patient stand on the chest and squat, but a man with one leg couldn't be asked to assume such a position. Bent over like this was the next best thing. Lucas pushed up the governor's nightshirt, exposed the Dutchman's plump buttocks, then, a moment before he began, "There is one thing, Mijnheer Governor."

"What one thing, barber?"

"My fee."

"Are you mad? I'll have you horsewhipped. Of course your fee will be paid. What do you take me for?"

"A strict man but a fair one. I'm told your word is absolutely to be relied on."

"It is. I take it you mean to ask for something other than money." The words came hard, with wheezing breath, limned by pain. "Ask then. Quickly."

"A homestead closer to the town than the one my sister and I have been assigned. And a place inside the town to practice my trade."

Stuyvesant turned his head, looked at Lucas over his shoulder. "There is no place inside the town. In Nieuw Amsterdam the one thing even I can't control is the roofs over people's heads. Fifteen hundred souls between the wharf and the wall, and all of them building where they...For the love of the Almighty, barber, this is an odd sort of conversation to be having with a man when your arse is in his face."

"I do not need much space to practice my craft, mijnheer, a small room will do." Lucas still hadn't touched his instruments.

"But I tell you...Very well. We'll find a corner for you. Now -- "

"And a different piece of land for my sister and myself. As I said, it need not be inside the town, only close to it. In the Voorstadt, perhaps."

Stuyvesant looked into Lucas's eyes for a second more. "Get on with it," he said finally. "You'll have what you ask. A barber shop this side of the wall and a homestead in the Voorstadt. But only if I live to issue the orders."

"I expected you'd see that part of it, mijnheer." Lucas pushed his rolled sleeves further up his arm. "This is only the examining part of the surgery. The forty-five seconds doesn't start until I'm done."

He inserted his finger deep into Stuyvesant's rectum. The governor grunted, but he didn't move. The soft wall of the intestine yielded to probing. Lucas could feel the bladder, and when he pressed a little harder, the stone. "Ah, a pebble of some size, Governor. No wonder it's causing such trouble." Stuyvesant's only answer was his labored breathing. "Now, mijnheer, the forty-five seconds begins. You may start counting."

Copyright © 2001 by MichaelA, Ltd.

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!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Stalin's Daughter
    by Rosemary Sullivan
    "There is something fatal about my life. You can't regret your fate, though I do regret my ...
  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Spinster
by Kate Bolick

A bold, original, moving book that will inspire fanatical devotion and ignite debate.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

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.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!