MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Coney Island: Background information when reading Vaclav & Lena

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

Vaclav & Lena

A Novel

by Haley Tanner

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner X
Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2011, 304 pages
    Feb 2012, 320 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk
Buy This Book

About this Book

Coney Island

This article relates to Vaclav & Lena

Print Review

Nathan's FamousAs a budding magician in Haley Tanner's novel Vaclav & Lena, young Vaclav dreams of performing for the crowds on Coney Island. Synonymous with roller coasters and Nathan's hot dogs, Coney Island is a unique piece of the New York City metropolitan area (located in the southernmost region of Brooklyn) and has a fascinating

Construction for Coney Island's resorts began in 1829 with the establishment of the Coney Island House, a haven for New York's upper crust. Though development was temporarily halted during the Civil War (1861-1865), the beachfront location quickly became a popular place to escape the hot, humid city summers and boomed with hotels, saloons, clam shacks, bathhouses, and entertainment for people of all types and ages. By the 1870s, it was estimated that as many as 60,000 people came out to enjoy the beaches each weekend. Among these visitors were Washington Irving, Herman Melville, Daniel Webster, and Walt Whitman.Elephant Hotel

Around the end of the 19th century, some of the quirkier amusements on Coney Island included the Switchback Railway, the first roller coaster in America, which was powered by gravity (1884); and the Elephant Hotel (see right), a 122-foot, seven story inn/brothel shaped like an elephant (1885). It is said that the hotel was so huge, it was one of the first major landmarks that greeted immigrants entering New York's harbor. On the streets outside the hotel, walkways were jammed with vendors, pitchmen, fortune tellers, and street performers - and it is easy to imagine a young Vaclav, with his Magician's Almanac in hand, among them.

This "beyond the book article" relates to Vaclav & Lena. It originally ran in May 2011 and has been updated for the February 2012 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Father of Lions
    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan
    Our readers have given high marks to Father of Lions by Louise Callaghan. Out of 21 reviewers, 18 ...
  • Book Jacket
    Girl, Woman, Other
    by Bernardine Evaristo
    As we meet Amma, a 50-something playwright finally experiencing mainstream success in Bernardine ...
  • Book Jacket: The Revisioners
    The Revisioners
    by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
    The chapters of Margaret Wilkerson Sexton's second novel, The Revisioners, alternate between three ...
  • Book Jacket: Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
    Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
    by Dexter Palmer
    The year is 1726 and the sleepy town of Godalming has been rocked by scandal. Called to the bedside ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Lost Man
by Jane Harper

"Strong characters, riveting plot and an honest look at life in the Australian outback make it easy to give this 5-stars!"

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Rita Woods

    A breakout debut with modern resonance, perfect for fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan

    A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Adventurer's Son

Publishing Soon!
The Adventurer's Son

"A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out."
--Jon Krakauer



Solve this clue:

I I A Broke, D F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.