The Boston Girl: A Novel

( 57 )

Overview

New York Times bestseller!
An unforgettable novel about a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century, told “with humor and optimism…through the eyes of an irresistible heroine” (People)—from the acclaimed author of The Red Tent.

Anita Diamant’s “vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood” (Los Angeles Times), follows the life of one woman, Addie Baum, through a period of dramatic change. Addie is The Boston ...

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The Boston Girl: A Novel

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Overview

New York Times bestseller!
An unforgettable novel about a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century, told “with humor and optimism…through the eyes of an irresistible heroine” (People)—from the acclaimed author of The Red Tent.

Anita Diamant’s “vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood” (Los Angeles Times), follows the life of one woman, Addie Baum, through a period of dramatic change. Addie is The Boston Girl, the spirited daughter of an immigrant Jewish family, born in 1900 to parents who were unprepared for America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End of Boston, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, to finding the love of her life, eighty-five-year-old Addie recounts her adventures with humor and compassion for the naïve girl she once was.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world. “Diamant brings to life a piece of feminism’s forgotten history” (Good Housekeeping) in this “inspirational…page-turning portrait of immigrant life in the early twentieth century” (Booklist).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/06/2014
Bestseller Diamant (The Red Tent) tells a gripping story of a young Jewish woman growing up in early-20th-century Boston. Addie Baum, an octogenarian grandmother in 1985, relates long-ago history to a beloved granddaughter, answering the question: “How did I get to be the woman I am today?” The answer: by living a fascinating life. First reminiscing about 1915 and the reading club she became a part of as a teenager, Addie, in a conversational tone, recounts the lifelong friendships that began at club meetings and days by the seaside at nearby Rockport. She tells movingly of the fatal effects of the flu, a relative’s suicide, the touchy subject of abortion and its aftermath, and even her own disastrous first date, which nearly ended in rape. Ahead of her time, Addie also becomes a career woman, working as a newspaper typist who stands up for her beliefs at all costs. This is a stunning look into the past with a plucky heroine readers will cheer for. (Dec.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-09-13
A Jewish woman born in 1900 tells her granddaughter about growing up in the 20th century. Diamant (Day After Night, 2009, etc.) establishes an agreeable, conversational tone in the opening paragraph: "I'm flattered you want to interview me," Addie says. "And when did I ever say no to my favorite grandchild?" It's 1985, and we quickly learn that Addie is the daughter of Russian immigrants, the only one born in the New World but not the only one to disappoint her bitter, carping mother by turning out to be "a real American." Older sister Betty horrifies their parents in 1910 by moving out to become a saleswoman at Filene's, and Addie flouts their limited expectations by attending high school and joining a reading club at the local settlement house. It's there she learns about Rockport Lodge and snatches a vacation at this "inn for young ladies in a seaside town north of Boston" with the help of the settlement house's nurturing Miss Chevalier. On her first trip to the lodge in 1916, Addie forms lifetime friendships with other striving working-class girls, particularly Filomena, whose affair with a married artist demonstrates the promises and perils of the new freedoms women are claiming. Addie's narrative rambles through the decades, spotlighting somewhat generic events: the deaths of two nephews in the 1918 flu epidemic, an unfulfilling romance with a traumatized World War I veteran, an encounter with a violent rumrunner. Her increasing aspirations take her from a secretarial job to a newspaper, where she climbs from typist to columnist with the help of other uppity women. True love arrives with labor lawyer Aaron Metsky, and a quick wrap-up of the years after 1931 tells us Addie found her vocation as a social worker and teacher. Enjoyable fiction with a detailed historical backdrop, this sweet tale is paradigmatic book club fare, but we expect something more substantial from the author of The Red Tent (1997) and The Last Days of Dogtown (2005).
Good Housekeeping
“Strong female ties form this story’s core. Through these relationships…Diamant brings to life a piece of feminism’s forgotten history [and reminds us] there will always be those who try to prescribe what you should be. Good friends are those who help you find out for yourself.”
People
“Diamant infuses [The Boston Girl] with humor and optimism, illuminating a wrenching period of American progress through the eyes of an irresistible heroine.”
Booklist
"A graphic, page-turning portrait of immigrant life in the early twentieth century...an inspirational read.”
Huffington Post
“The story of every immigrant and the difficulties of adapting to and accepting an unfamiliar culture."
Boston Globe
“Ravishing. . . .whip-smart, warm, and full of feeling… deeply pleasurable. . . you can’t help wanting to linger.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Crisp, lively, clear, wry, affectionate, compulsively readable and very entertaining…The Boston Girl’s…[narrator] is supremely brave and bighearted — a marvelous role model no matter how you parse it.”
Miami Herald
The Boston Girl convincingly traces the story of a scrappy, intelligent immigrant, who does more than merely survive the 20th century; she embraces it all—tragedies, joys, and the humdrum—with unflagging passion.”
USA Today
"Addie is…a good storyteller, and her descriptions of the human devastation of World War I and the flu epidemic … have an immediacy that blows away any historical dust."
Boston Herald
“Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl introduces[a] woman of substance…[who] relates how growing up in a time of gender inequality, strict family expectations, and a widening generation gap of social values made her a successful person.”
Los Angeles Times
“A vivid, affectionate portrait of American womanhood …Diamant has built her career on taking women seriously, and Addie Baum is another strong heroine with an irrepressible voice.”
New York Journal of Books
“Engaging… interesting, informative, and a good read.”
Dallas Morning News
This compelling new novel by the author of the book club favorite The Red Tent (1997) also celebrates a woman’s story.”
Historical Novel Society
“Readers…will feel lucky that they read this richly textured all-American tale.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“An exploration of the immigrant experience, love,marriage and friendship, plus many significant world events, including World War I and II, Prohibition, the Spanish flu epidemic, civil rights and the sexual revolution. Through it all, family and friendship remain resilient.”
Library Journal
10/15/2014
Eighty-five-year-old Addie Baum reminisces about her life in Diamant's (The Red Tent; Day After Night) step back in time. Addie's been asked by her 22-year-old granddaughter, Ava, to explain how she became the woman she is. Born to Jewish immigrant parents in 1900 in Boston's heavily populated North End, Addie and her two older sisters lived in a tenement with their unhappy parents who did not acclimate to this new world. But Addie's caring and loyal sisters are there for her. In 1915 she is a young teen, interested in her activities at a library group held at a neighborhood settlement house. Recalling situations with her compassionate eye and remarkable sense of humor, Addie observes upheavals large and small: changing women's roles, movies, celebrity culture, short skirts, and the horrible flu pandemic of 1918. She explores feminism, family, and love as well. VERDICT Diamant offers impeccable descriptions of Boston life during these early years of the 20th century and creates a loving, caring lead character who grows in front of our eyes from a naïve young girl to a warm, wise elder. Readers interested in historical fiction will certainly enjoy this look at the era, with all its complications and wonders. [See Prepub Alert, 9/8/14.]—Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439199350
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 12/9/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 4,815
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is the bestselling author of the novels The Boston Girl, The Red Tent, Good Harbor, The Last Days of Dogtown, and Day After Night, and the collection of essays, Pitching My Tent. An award-winning journalist whose work appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine and Parenting, she is the author of six nonfiction guides to contemporary Jewish life. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at AnitaDiamant.com.

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    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 27, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      M.A. in English, SUNY, Binghamton, NY, 1975; B.A. in Comparative Literature, Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO, 1973.
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Boston Girl

Nobody told you?

Ava, sweetheart, if you ask me to talk about how I got to be the woman I am today, what do you think I’m going to say? I’m flattered you want to interview me. And when did I ever say no to my favorite grandchild?

I know I say that to all of my grandchildren and I mean it every single time. That sounds ridiculous or like I’m losing my marbles, but it’s true. When you’re a grandmother you’ll understand.

And why not? Look at the five of you: a doctor, a social worker, two teachers, and now you.

Of course they’re going to accept you into that program. Don’t be silly. My father is probably rolling over in his grave, but I think it’s wonderful.

Don’t tell the rest of them, but you really are my favorite and not only because you’re the youngest. Did you know you were named after me?

It’s a good story.

Everyone else is named in memory of someone who died, like your sister Jessica, who was named for my nephew Jake. But I was very sick when you were born and when they thought I wasn’t going to make it, they went ahead and just hoped the angel of death wouldn’t make a mistake and take you, Ava, instead of me, Addie. Your parents weren’t that superstitious, but they had to tell everyone you were named after your father’s cousin Arlene, so people wouldn’t give them a hard time.

It’s a lot of names to remember, I know.

Grandpa and I named your aunt Sylvia for your grandfather’s mother, who died in the flu epidemic. Your mother is Clara after my sister Celia.

What do you mean, you didn’t know I had a sister named Celia? That’s impossible! Betty was the oldest, then Celia, and then me. Maybe you forgot.

Nobody told you? You’re sure?

Well, maybe it’s not such a surprise. People don’t talk so much about sad memories. And it was a long time ago.

But you should know this. So go ahead. Turn on the tape recorder.

My father came to Boston from what must be Russia now. He took my sisters, Betty and Celia, with him. It was 1896 or maybe 1897; I’m not sure. My mother came three or four years later and I was born here in 1900. I’ve lived in Boston my whole life, which anyone can tell the minute I open my mouth.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 57 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(23)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2014

    I enjoyed the book and felt it was a welcome change from crime a

    I enjoyed the book and felt it was a welcome change from crime and other types of fiction
     which are currently been published.

    This book about Addie Baum the first American born child o
    f Russian Jewish immigrants who was born in Boston in 1900
    . She is telling her granddaughter in 1985 the story of her life. It a rags-to-middle-class story.
    A lot of the book shows how the settlement programs for immigrants provided the children of immigrants
     opportunities for education and friendship. I liked the fact that the book was about poor immigrants;
     Many Americans are forgetting about their poor immigrant roots. 

    However, I thought the ending of the book lacked a punch.
    The book needed some kind of climax. Furthermore, the book lacked a strong message.
    It missed some of the qualities of top fiction such as conflict between characters and a lead character
    who will mature and grow over time. 


    espite these shortcomings I enjoyed the book and found it a entertaining book to read.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2014

    Once I started, I couldn't put down this book. Very inspiring!

    Once I started, I couldn't put down this book. Very inspiring!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2015

    This book was interesting and worth the read.  I enjoy memoirs,

    This book was interesting and worth the read.  I enjoy memoirs, and this has the flavor of that genre.  The history
    regarding women's issues during this time period was interesting. The conflicts between characters were there, 
    especially between mom and Addie and mom and the other characters.  Some stronger development of 
    characters was missing. As a coming of age style of novel, this lacked a strong message of lesson learned, other
    than Addie learned she wasn't responsibile for Celia's death. Still, a good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2015

    Amazing

    So sad this story had to end

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 2, 2015

    An excellent read!

    This is a beautiful story told to a granddaughter about her family history. It is centered around the grandmother's entire life; her hardships, her joys,
    family situations, her friendships. Ms. Diamant is a very talented writer that
    has a way with descriptions and words that pull the reader into her story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2014

    Readable but unexciting

    I've read all of Diamant's fiction except ...Dogtown, and found it the least interesting. As a Boston native the history was fun to follow but may not be particularly interesting to a noon native. I found the character development hollow and the gimmick of selling this as an "interview" didn't do much to help.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2014

    unremarkable

    This had to be one of the most predictable and boring novels I have read and sufferred through in years.
    She should have stopped at The Red Tent..
    Honestly.... totally stupid

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Really enjoyed this novel.  It read like an autobiography.  Wond

    Really enjoyed this novel.  It read like an autobiography.  Wonderful character devepment.  However, 2 parts broke my heart.  The main character was tormented by her judgmental mother, but this same character make judgemental political statements that were out of place and unneeded.  I felt the author threw them in for publishers or editors agendas.  This book is well worth your time and money.  I do highly recommend it.  I just cannot understand the lack of knowledge or poor judgement I see in many modern books that push political beliefs, but don't reflect a true understanding of the what they oppose.  This very small part of the book sadden me, but I am glad I read this book and will continue to read more by this author.  This book deserves an A++++++++

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2015

    Great Read!

    I enjoyed the whole storyline. Female protagonist from poor beginnings and traumatic childhood , yet she was strong and accomplished much in her time. Page turner and worth the read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2015

    Wonderful read!

    I loved this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2015

    Great book

    I really enjoyed the book it kind of reminded me of my childhood

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2015

    Nice story

    I felt it was a nice story of a family from the youngest daughter's point of view. We all see things and experience things in different ways.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2015

    Good Read Not Great

    I liked the the story, although the different people in the story were hard to keep track of. Also overall it was slow and predictable.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2015

    I thought this was a sweet and gentle book. The story unfolds a

    I thought this was a sweet and gentle book. The story unfolds as an 85-year old woman sharing her personal history with her granddaughter. I totally enjoyed the tender spirit of the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2015

    An enjoyable read. A sweet story.

    I really enjoyed the book. The story centers on an elderly jewish grandmother telling her granddaughter about her life growing up in Boston. The characters in the story could have been any ethnic group. I read the book in one day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2015

    Slice og Novel reads like a memoir

    Light, enjoyable slice of Jewish life in Boston early 20th century.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2015

    For ladies of a certain age

    I loved the book and will pass it on to women I know will love it also. A sweet, but realistic, picture of the era.

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  • Posted April 10, 2015

    Highly Recommended

    The book kept your interest from page one until the end. Beautifully written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2015

    Pretty Good

    Interesting read - I just wish there had been a bigger/different climax - very easy and enjoyable read - just left you wanting a bit more.

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  • Posted March 13, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    Delightful reading

    Ms Diamant never fails to entertain. Each book seems to be slightly different in style but all are intelligent and enlightening. I enjoyed the Boston Girl so much. I have an elderly female friend who grew up in the same time frame in the history of US and this story describes it to a 'tee'. Especially poignant is the plight of women in the times.....great story!....and I'd recommend it to any reader interested in history and different cultural practices.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 57 Customer Reviews

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