Daughter of Providence

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Against the backdrop of the Great Depression a young woman unravels her family's past

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Daughter of Providence: A Novel

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Against the backdrop of the Great Depression a young woman unravels her family's past

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It's 1934, and Anne Dodge, the heroine of Drew's promising but undercooked debut, has remained insulated from the economic hardships befalling Warwick, R.I. After all, her father, who owns the (currently closed) mill in town, is wealthy enough to have been coasting through the Depression. Anne's worries are more personal than political—her Portuguese mother left when Anne was just six—and now Anne's past has come to call, when her younger half-sister, Maria Cristina, comes to live with Anne and her father. Anne tries to reconcile her father's evident hatred of Maria Cristina with her own fondness for the serious, almost saintly girl, just like she must balance her own unladylike aspirations to become a boatbuilder with her early forays into romance. Anne, 23, is a memorable heroine and narrator, though her perspective and voice can make her seem like a contemporary woman dressed up in 1930s costumes. Drew enjoys some success in addressing issues of the day—particularly those of race and class; the unionization debate less so—which lends a strong atmosphere to the family drama, but the big disappointment is the melodramatic conclusion; it doesn't do justice to an otherwise considered if slightly shaggy story. (July)
Kirkus Reviews

A period novel—set in 1934—that examines dark secrets in a fading Rhode Island family.

The Dodges are well off (Old Money), though patriarch Samuel Dodge has been trying to reopen a family-owned textile mill that had been closed because of changing economic circumstances. His daughter, narrator Anne Dodge, is more interested in building boats with long-time family friend Ezra than in any business interests. A college graduate, Anne has yet to decide what she wants to commit to and is bitter that her Portuguese mother Inêz has run away from the family. Anne's bitterness is somewhat sweetened when Maria Cristina, her 12-year-old half-sister, unexpectedly turns up. Anne develops a curious relationship with her sister—she's in equal measure affectionate and irritated by her, especially when Maria Cristina constantly thrusts herself into every aspect of Anne's life. And while there's no doubt about the identity of Maria Cristina's mother, the identity of her father is problematic—Ezra? Or perhaps even Samuel Dodge himself? Anne's life becomes complicated when Oliver Fielding, a young and attractive entrepreneur, starts showing interest in investing in the mill as well as an interest in Anne. Further complications arise when a combination of social idealists and thugs protest Samuel's plan to "exploit" local workers.

First novelist Drew draws a careful portrait of both social and family problems.

From the Publisher
"...promising... Anne, 23, is a memorable heroine and narrator." - Publishers Weekly

"First novelist Drew draws a careful portrait of both social and family problems." - Kirkus Reviews

"A sweeping drama...Drew perfectly captures the old New England feel of her shore-town setting and lavishes attention on the period details that transport readers back to the 1930s...Fans of Tara Hyland and Elizabeth Bard will love this poignant page-turner..." - Booklist

"Anne is a sympathetic heroine, and Drew's storytelling is compelling." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"...a beautifully written and moving debut novel by an important new voice in American fiction." - BookReporter.com

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590204627
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 8/4/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Drew is associate Professor of English at the University of Akron, where she teaches writing, film, and cultural studies.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 27, 2012

    Masterful Storytelling - You'll enjoy it! Great gift idea.

    Betrayal, innocence, passion and mystery – author Julie Drew masterfully weaves these elements through a fresh tale that draws the reader in and doesn’t let go until the stunning conclusion. This is a story that will transport you and leave you wanting more; I found myself re-reading sections and hoping that Ms. Drew continues the saga in another book. Daughter of Providence is a wonderful read, beautifully written, original, and thought provoking; you don’t want to miss this one!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2012

    I loved this book

    I read quite a lot of historical fiction, though not much set in the twentieth century, and I was knocked out by this. The atmosphere is wonderfully vivid and memorable, but the best thing about the novel is its sharply realized characters and their complicated relationships. The plot is strikingly interesting. I found this novel powerful and affecting, and it lingers in my mind. I read so much that I forget most novels fairly soon after I read them, but not this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2012

    Fine, fine writing

    Daughter of Providence is what excellent writing is all about: a strong, intriguing story line; powerful, page-turning drama; exquisite attention to language that is often poetic. Although I bought the book in hardback, I plan to get an e-book copy to have the novel close at hand. A superb first novel from an author worth following.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2012

    Surprisingly relevant

    The setting of this novel is Providence, RI, which initially didn't interest me, but I quickly learned how relevant Anne's lessons were to my own life. Anne is learning who she is in an environment where a woman obeys her elders and her betters (in both cases, men). I found myself comparing my own philosophical and generational differences with my father as I read the novel, and I remembered all the times I thought, "When do I take a stand?" Then I compared the class struggles of the novel, particularly the results of a rapidly diminishing working class and a rapidly growing prejudice towards immigrants, and I realized that I could be reading about any American city today. The storyline is good, but it's the parallels that get you. Drew reminds us what happens to those who forget history. . .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Highly recommended

    I read this book in a day. It was great. It kept me guessing until the very end. I can't wait to read another of Julie Drew's books. She's an awesome writer. check it out!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2011

    Highly Recommended. A Great Summer Read

    Set in the labor, ethnic, and sexual politics of 1930's New England, this book still manages to be oh so relevant to today. At its core it is a family drama about the cost of keeping secrets and the even greater price of discovering the truth. The characters are wonderfully drawn; the plot kept me guessing until the final page; the prose is simply beautiful. A great summer read. It will keep you reading late into the night.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2012

    Highly Engaging

    Daughter of Providence offers insight into the challenges inherent in our American melting pot. While we watch the new relationship develop between Anne, white and privileged, and her step-sister Maria Christina, second generation immigrant, we also see the pristine public image of Anne's father falter and implode changing the lives of everyone involved.

    Despite the depth of the multiple issues impacting the characters, such as race, class, education, and more, Drew's writing style makes this an easy but highly engaging read. Simply put, it's a page turner with a shocker of an ending readers should not miss.

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  • Posted January 23, 2012

    Couldn't put it down...

    My friends think my love of historical fiction means I’m boring. To them I hold up this novel and say “ha ha!” Drew has, yes, given those of us who enjoy learning about a place or time via literature something to sink our teeth into. (I have never been so engaged by the details of labor disputes and the effects of the depression – surprisingly interesting stuff.) BUT, once you’re teeth are sunk; you find it’s into a juicy slab of flesh – the story is visceral, intriguing. The passions of forbidden love, love against all odds, mistaken identities, death-defying drama – all of the elements of a romance novel (rescued from baseness, that is) are wrapped somehow lovingly inside the story of a mother’s love…it makes you feel like you’re getting away with something! And, you come away as if you’ve read three or four different books, even though it’s just one, gripping, first-off, from an author I’ll be sure to keep reading.

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