read by Linda Lavin
The Boston Girl provides a picture of life in and around that city, concentrating on the years 1915 to 1931. Addie Baum is the first-person narrator. Born in 1900 in the United States to Jewish immigrant parents, she has two older sisters. She tells her story to her granddaughter in 1985, looking back over the years. Life in the immigrant tenements, the effects of World War I, and the changes it brought about in the 1920s, especially for women, are all part of the story.
Author Anita Diamant says she was inspired to write the novel by a building she passed by frequently - the real Rockport Lodge, an 1857 farmhouse on the coast that in 1906 became a vacation site for women of modest income. Addie begins going there in 1915, and attends regularly over the years, meeting a group of girls of all backgrounds - daughters of Italian and Irish immigrants - that become lifelong friends.
I found it fascinating that the librarians and archivists at Harvard University quickly processed the Rockport Lodge papers that had been donated to them so that Diamant could use them in their research. It's also interesting that the Lodge building, with its sign, still exists today, although it has been a private home since 2007.
The Saturday Evening Girls club in the story is also real. The two Ediths in the story who started it, Chevalier and Green, appear to be adapted from the real life Edith Guerrier and Edith Brown. Guerrier was a librarian who went on to a distinguished career.
Actress Linda Lavin certainly sounds like she could be an 85-year-old Bostonian telling her life story, as she narrates this book. The accent did begin to grate on me after a while, though.
© Amanda Pape - 2017
[The audiobook, and an e-book for reference, were borrowed from and returned to my university library and a public library respectively.]