18 Oct 2013

SWIMMING IN THE MOON.

SWIMMING IN THE MOON by PAMELA SCHOENEWALDT.

SOURCE: Received for review from Turnaround (Publisher Services).

Italy, 1905. Fourteen-year-old Lucia and her young mother, Teresa, are servants in a magnificent villa on the Bay of Naples, where Teresa soothes their unhappy mistress with song. But volatile tempers force them to flee, exchanging their warm, gilded cage for the cold winds off Lake Erie and Cleveland's restless immigrant quarters.

With a voice as soaring and varied as her moods, Teresa transforms herself into the Naples Nightingale on the vaudeville circuit. Clever and hardworking, Lucia blossoms in school until her mother's demons return, fracturing Lucia's dreams.

Yet Lucia is not alone in her struggle for a better life. All around her, friends and neighbors, new Americans, are demanding decent wages and working conditions. Lucia joins their battle, confronting risks and opportunities that will transform her and her world in ways she never imagined.
..... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: Singing To Vesuvius): I spend hours in trains now or shivering in borrowed Model T's, bouncing down rutted roads between towns strewn like rocks across frozen fields.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 190): I wasn't exactly their image of a typical immigrant, I gathered from talks with suffragettes. I had finished high school and spoke good English now. Soon I could even be a citizen, But still I wasn't like these ladies; I could be useful for their marches but not precisely welcomed in their parlors.

MY THOUGHTS: An amazing novel. Storytelling at its best. 

Whilst the themes of immigration, mental health and the rise of trade unions are hardly unique it is the fact that they are combined in one book with such an extensive cast of female characters around whom the story revolves that makes Swimming In The Moon such a different and irresistible read.

It's the early twentieth century and teenager Lucia and her mother (Teresa), branded as a hysteric, are forced to flee their Naples home for America where Lucia follows her dream of high school, her mother, eventually fired from her job as a chocolate dipper, hers as a vaudeville performer.

Although a story of hardship, of tragedy, of the abuses of power, of dreams quashed this is essentially a life affirming novel. Wonderfully written and full of vividly portrayed characters. It is no exaggeration to say the story of Lucia and, in particular, Teresa captured my heart from the beginning even if I felt the book never really got fully under way until their arrival in America.

Historically rich on all levels, I felt the author did exceptionally well to touch on so many issues whilst managing to maintain my interest throughout.



Disclaimer:  Read and reviewed on behalf of the turnaround-uk.com, I was merely asked for my honest opinion, no financial compensation was asked for nor given.
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16 comments:

Aunt Mary said...

I loved the cover of the book, your review tells that it will be very good read :)

Brian Joseph said...

My ancestors came to America from Italy around this time so this sounds particularly interesting to me.

Sounds like a great book.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

This sounds really good!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

This sounds like my kind of book and it was obviously yours too!

I checked out the author and came across her second book, which I then realised had featured on a few other blogs, although I haven't come across a review. 'When We Were Strangers' also tells the story of an Italian immigrant worker resettling in the US, although this time as a seamstress.

Definitely 2 new books for my list and a great review which hepled me make my mind up, thanks.

Yvonne.

On a separate note and simply because I have had another of those 'senior' (sorry! 'Blonde') moments and misplaced your email address, could you please let me know your contact details for Alma Publishing. My winning books arrived today and I was so impressed with the service, packaging, quality etc. that I just wanted to drop them a line and let them know.

Thanks, I really will try to buck my ideas up!! LOL

Kelly said...

Despite the wonderful title, I wasn't sure this appealed to me until I read your excellent review. Now I'm thinking I might have to look into it a little more closely.

Tracy Terry said...

A great read though I know some think that the immigration side of the story could have been a little stronger.

So pleased you are happy with your books Yvonne, an email with contact details for Alma Books is on its way.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Glad you enjoyed this one! I love that you feature all different types of genres. :)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Sounds like a fab book and one you don't get too much of in that time period. Oh I might have to add it to my wishlist.

Suko said...

Sounds truly wonderful! Another brilliant review, Tracy.

Naida said...

This sounds good. I like the immigration aspect of it.

Alexia561 said...

Wonderful review! While I'm not usually one for historical fiction, you make this one sound like a great read!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

This book sounds fabulous and what a cover! The storyline sounds like one that I will really get into. I enjoy a good historical fiction book. This is on my list now! Thanks!

Jinky said...

Fantastic review!! Sounds like my kind of book. I want, I want, I want!!

Literary Feline said...

This is one I am really hoping to read one day. It sounds so good and knowing you enjoyed it, makes me want to read it even more!

Mamakucingbooks said...

This sorts of book calls out to me. I know i will love it

Claudine G. said...

Sounds good. The cover and title draw me almost immediately. I love reading about strong female protagonists, so I'll check this out.