Children of Liberty: A Novel

Children of Liberty: A Novel

2.5 6
by Paullina Simons
     
 

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Before Tatiana and Alexander . . . before Leningrad and Lazarevo . . . before everything, there was Gina Attaviano, who came from Belpasso to Boston's Freedom Docks seeking a new and better life. There she meets Harry Barrington. Their bond is instantaneous, urgent . . . but so are the forces against them.

At the turn of the century and the dawning of the modern

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Overview

Before Tatiana and Alexander . . . before Leningrad and Lazarevo . . . before everything, there was Gina Attaviano, who came from Belpasso to Boston's Freedom Docks seeking a new and better life. There she meets Harry Barrington. Their bond is instantaneous, urgent . . . but so are the forces against them.

At the turn of the century and the dawning of the modern world, the fortunes and future of the Barringtons and Attavianos become intertwined, on a collision course between the old and the new, between what is expected and what is desired, what is chosen and what is bestowed, what is given and what is taken away. As America races headlong into the future, much will be lost and much will be gained for Gina and Harry, and for a nation and a people that have the blessing and the curse of unrivaled opportunity . . . and unlimited potential.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gina Attaviano is a feisty 14-year old from Sicily who disembarks in Boston at the turn of the 20th century to begin a new life in this melancholy romance from Simon (The Bronze Horseman). On the dock, her family meets real estate heir Harry Barrington and political scion Ben Shaw, Harvard students and best friends who become enamored with Gina. She pursues the older men by meeting them at Anti-Imperialism League gatherings and asking Harry to finance a loan for pizza restaurants to be run by her brother. After five years in America, Gina becomes "progressive" Jane with scandalously short dresses; socialist friends; an affinity for Emma Goldman, "Mother" Jones, and Eugene Debs; liaisons with an engaged lover; and a belief that children are "soul-destroying". Harry, "living a life that's a fraud," is indecisive, weak, confused, and bullied by his father; he romances lumber heiress Alice Porter for eight years, while trying to resist free-spirited Gina, whom Ben desires. Harry also struggles with his career as a Harvard economics instructor and Ph.D. candidate. His raw, final confrontation with his father, while gripping, results in loose threads and a bittersweet ending. Simons's ambitious period piece is distinguished by its substance, yet weighted by an overabundance of minor characters and subplots. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A love story about two people from vastly different worlds gets off to an excruciatingly slow start in Simons' prequel to The Bronze Horseman trilogy. When Sicilian-born immigrants Gina and Salvo Attaviano arrive in Boston with their mother in 1899, the family meets a couple of 21-year-old entrepreneurs who provide food, lodging and advice before the Attavianos settle in with relatives in nearby Lawrence. The nephew of a Civil War hero, Ben Shaw is animated and passionate about bananas, his desire to build a canal in Panama to promote international trade and, once he sets eyes on her, 14-year-old Gina. Harry Barrington is the polar opposite of Ben. The son of a wealthy property owner, he's quiet and bookish and has been dating Alice, the daughter of his father's business partner, for years. When Ben invites Gina to attend anti-imperialistic meetings sponsored by his feminist mother, Gina sneaks to Boston each week--but it's neither the politics nor Ben that interest her. She's attracted to Harry and does everything in her power to spend time with him, including convincing Harry to invest in two restaurants. Although Harry's increasingly drawn to Gina, he still tries to do as society dictates, and he and Gina eventually go their separate ways as Ben heads to Panama to work on the new canal. In the ensuing years, Harry pursues his doctorate while maintaining his relationship with Alice, but a chance meeting with Gina steers his life in a new direction. The two begin to attend speeches given by anarchist Emma Goldman, socialist Eugene Debs, and other political and social activists, and Harry starts to reassess his own thoughts and feelings; so much so, in fact, that random fragments of the protestors' speeches run willy-nilly through Harry's thoughts as his own life changes course. Unfortunately, Simons misses a good opportunity to present a strong romance and clearly connect its characters to many of the prevalent issues in early-20th-century America; although the love story is adequate, the sociopolitical elements in the narrative are too random to be meaningful.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062103239
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/26/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
421
Sales rank:
294,657
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.82(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Paullina Simons is an internationally bestselling author whose novels include Bellagrand and The Bronze Horseman was born in Leningrad in 1963. As a child she immigrated to Queens, New York, and attended colleges in Long Island. Then she moved to England and attended Essex University, before returning to America. She lives in New York with her husband and children.

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