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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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

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.82(h) x 1.10(d)

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Children of Liberty: A Novel 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
CMKmom More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because of the previous Simons books I have read - most especially the Bronze Horseman Trilogy. Ms.Simons creates some great characters in her books, and we find ourselves involved with their issues and behaviors. She did it again with Children of Liberty. Some of the characters are strong and brave - others have flaws that we hate, but love reading about. I very much enjoyed this book - it's not War and Peace, but a very comfortable book to curl up with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasted. There was much potential for a great story and set of characters but the end result felt as though the author only half cared and the characters had little to no depth. I LOVED the Bronze Horseman series and reread it regularly, this novel disappointed me very much.
lee_s More than 1 year ago
I couldn't finish this book. The characters were underwhelming. Much of the time I felt that the author was trying to demonstrate all of the research she'd done to prepare to write the book. Her Bronze Horseman was MUCH better so I was expecting something really wonderful. It didn't happen. Hopefully her next book will be better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It isn't as compelling as "The Bronze Horseman," but it was very enjoyable! Great start to the series...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookReflections More than 1 year ago
Children of Liberty is the Prequel to the Bronze Horseman series.  It focuses on the lives of Gina and Harry and their love story in the midst of a growing America where Henry Ford is building horseless carriages, Americans debate the wisdom of the Panama Canal, and immigrants pursue the American dream.  It is during this time that Gina and Harry slowly find each other despite life's obstacles. I've heard so much about The Bronze Horseman and I've been meaning to read the book for sometime.  So when the opportunity to read the prequel arose, I jumped hoping it would motivate me to read The Bronze Horseman as well.  I didn't read The Bronze Horseman and Children of Liberty was a disappointment.  The first half of the book describes Gina and her family's arrival to America.  She is young and quickly falls for Harry.  Harry is twenty-three to Gina's fifteen years and knows Gina only as the girl his best friend, Ben, foolishly falls for despite the age difference.  The second half of the book finds Gina much older and Harry near a major life event and Harry is suddenly in love with Gina but there are many obstacles in the way. The first of the book was quite boring and I didn't like Gina much.  I found her to be manipulative and selfish.  I thought Harry and his friends to be boring.  When the story focused on Gina, it focused on her love for a boy that barely knew she was alive.  When the story focused on Harry, it focused on the politics of the times.  The politics would be more interesting if it was connected to more than conversation and debates between the characters.  The second half of the story focuses on Harry falling completely for Gina.  While this half was much better than the first.  I never could understand the sudden interest in Gina.  I also thought Harry's inability to make decisions and lack of self-awareness to be quite irritating. Maybe I'd enjoy this story if I read it after completing the series.  So I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it isn't for me at this point in time.