Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street-Susan Jane Gilman

Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street-Susan Jane Gilman

the facts
satisfaction: up/side
pages: 505
gender: F
nationality: USA
year: 2014
Crippled Malka grabs the American Dream with both hands and forces it to happen. Through the process she reveals herself to be a very cunning person even as she transforms into a fluffy matron of a major ice cream company.

This novel lead to ambivalence mainly because of how difficult it is to like the narrator. It's not just that she was racist and ambitious in that self-centered way that leaves everyone else harmed, but she was written with just too shtick I felt like I wasn't reading a character so much as a stereotype taken to its extreme. Which was probably the point because Gilman writes really well incorporating an impressive array of historical details to bring NYC and NJ of the early 20th century to life. And the acerbity of Malka really allows this book to avoid any hint of becoming twee or saccharine or even aspirational like most books that start in appalling poverty and end in extreme wealth do. You barely notice the 500 pages, you've just been absorbed into that intricately detailed setting. 

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