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City of Dreams: A Novel of Early Manhattan [Kindle Edition]

Beverly Swerling
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

In 1661, Lucas Turner, a barber surgeon, and his sister, Sally, an apothecary, stagger off a small wooden ship after eleven weeks at sea. Bound to each other by blood and necessity, they aim to make a fresh start in the rough and rowdy Dutch settlement of Nieuw Amsterdam; but soon lust, betrayal, and murder will make them mortal enemies. In their struggle to survive in the New World, Lucas and Sally make choices that will burden their descendants with a legacy of secrets and retribution, and create a heritage that sets cousin against cousin, physician against surgeon, and, ultimately, patriot against Tory.

In what will be the greatest city in the New World, the fortunes of these two families are inextricably entwined by blood and fire in an unforgettable American saga of pride and ambition, love and hate, and the becoming of the dream that is New York City.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The tapestry of early American society is hung out for a fresh viewing in this ambitious historical novel of 1660s New Amsterdam. The English Turners are brother and sister, surgeon/barber and apothecary. Devoted to one another, Sally and Lucas quickly learn to make their way in the harsh, prosperous new world, aiding the Dutch governor Stuyvesant's family and making their reputation in the bargain. Then Lucas sells Sally in marriage to Jacob Van der Vries, a cruel, foolish physician, in order to save her life, Lucas says, but she believes it is to buy his lover's freedom to marry, and she never forgives him. This rift begins a feud between the Van der Vries (later Devreys) and Turners that lasts through the American Revolution. Colorful characters vie with historical figures for attention on this broad stage: there's Jennet, Sally's great-granddaughter, who marries a wealthy Jew; Caleb Devrey, Jennet's first cousin, who loved her as a boy, but becomes her bitterest enemy; Morgan, Jennet's son, a privateer and patriot; and Morgan's best friend and former slave, Cuffy, whose fate is bound to Morgan's by love, hate and the same woman the gorgeous Roisin Campbell aka Mistress Healsall. The healing profession is carried down through each generation of Turners and Devreys, and Swerling's descriptions of early operations with crude instruments are detailed and riveting. The city of New York is a character in its own right, but even it cannot compete with the richly drawn, well-rounded people Swerling creates. This engrossing, generously imagined tale deserves the large audience it should find at a time when the founding fathers reign triumphant in biography. (Oct.) Forecast: The size of this hefty debut may actually be a selling point, since it promises an epic tale. The colorful period jacket art should appeal to browsers, too.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The early history of Manhattan is chronicled through six generations of a remarkable clan of surgeons, physicians, and apothecaries. Hounded out of England for illegally practicing surgery, gifted Lucas Turner and his sister, Sally, immigrate to the New World. Landing in New Amsterdam in 1661, Lucas employs a combination of daring and skill to establish his reputation as a surgeon, and Sally begins planting and gathering the herbs, plants, and flowers she needs to concoct the medicinal potions and drugs necessary for his practice. Though their future seems bright, the arrival of an unscrupulous and inept Dutch physician threatens both their security and their relationship. When Jacob Van der Vies succeeds in his vile blackmail effort, he causes an irreparable rift between the two siblings. For more than 100 years, the Turner and the Van der Vies branches of the family participate in both the evolution of the art and science of medicine and the transition of Manhattan from a fledgling colonial outpost to a bustling, thriving metropolis on the brink of revolution. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 2455 KB
  • Print Length: 594 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0684871734
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004U7GWWY
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,184 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Riveting Epic Novel Of Historical Manhattan. Superb!! February 14, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"City Of Dreams" provides an extremely rich slice of Manhattan history along with an intricately plotted novel filled with unforgettable characters. I couldn't put this book down!
English barber surgeon Lucas Turner and his apothecary sister, Sally, land in mid-17th century Nieuw Amsterdam after a grueling sea voyage from the Netherlands. The two are devoted to each other, having escaped from a life of squalor and poverty to make their way in the New World. They are aided by Governor Peter Stuyvesant after Lucas performs a successful surgery on him to remove a kidney stone. The future seems filled with promise until a terrible betrayal causes a rift between the siblings that will impact generations to come.
In a series of eight segments, author Beverly Swerling unfolds the lives of the original Turners and their descendants, as Nieuw Amsterdam becomes the city of New York and finally the first capital of the United States of America. This absorbing multi-generational saga continues through the Revolutionary War providing detailed and accurate historical background as well as an extraordinary storyline and subplots. Patriot Nathan Hale, British Generals Clinton and Howe, and colonial General George Washington are some of the characters who interact with Ms. Swerling's fictional cast.
The history of the beginnings of medical science are absolutely fascinating. A number of medical interventions, all performed without the use of anesthesia, are vividly described, including tracheotomies, amputations, a radical mastectomy, and the removal of kidney stones.
As an added attraction the dust jacket is illustrated with a wonderful view of early Manhattan taken from a copper engraving. The inside end papers show beautiful aerial illustrations of the city in its early days.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down! January 1, 2004
I will truthfully say I bought this book at a dollar store. But I could not put it down. I would gladly pay full price to own this book. If a reader is even slightly interested in medicine or history this book will appeal to them. It tweeked at my patriotism also. You become enthralled by the characters in the story. I could not decide which side I was on so I decided to root for everyone. The goryness and truthfullness of the medical prcedures is not for the weak or immature reader. The sex scenes are also explicit but flow with the story. I felt the story would have held it's own without the detailed sex scenes but they were consistant with the story. I would definetly monitor younger readers with this book. I would not let my 12 year old read it. But I loved it!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Novel Weighed Down November 23, 2007
City of Dreams is a wonderful idea of a novel; set in the earliest days of Niew Amsterdam, we meet a brother and sister relocating to the new world in order to follow their dreams. The story begins quite excitingly, with Lucas Turner, a barber/surgeon by trade, able to relieve the suffering of colony leader Peter Stuyvesant and arrange a place within the city to ply his trade. As we follow the story, Lucas and his sister Sally portray the entirely human foibles that lead to great storytelling: Sally, in her misguided headstrong ways, finds herself raped by an Indian, which leads to a pregnancy, and Lucas finds himself led by his hormones and emotions into an affair that results in him basically selling his sister in order to gain his own desires. Just when we become fully engaged in their tales, the scene shifts and we are thrust approximately thirty years into the future lives of their descendants.

Well written and incredibly well researched, City of Dreams is full of woe, entanglements, disease, shifting fortunes, and gore. And more gore. And still more gore. I understand the need to portray the situation as it was, but it did seem that scene after scene was full of violence and gore. Knowing that the novel centers around a family known for its medical "expertise", I was impressed with Swerling's descriptions up to a point, but when it began to feel as though she was relentlessly pounding home the ruthlessness of colonial life, I began to feel that perhaps she was using the gore as a device to simply move the plot along through shock factor. Life was rough; I understand that. I would have appreciated more character development, particularly in the latter pages when I began to realize that the story had become a lower class=good/upper class=evil tale.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a terrific novel that begins in the Dutch Colonial period when New York City was New Amsterdam and continues until just after the American Revolution. Swerling's story is filled with interesting characters, some sympathetic and others appalling, but all of whom are captivating.
She tells the story of our great city through the lives, loves and adventures of several families whose members are surgeons (barbers), medical doctors (physics) or pharmacists (apothecaries). That these families include African and African-American slaves is especially satisfying and I learned a great deal about the interactions between whites and blacks in the early days of our nation. (Sadly, in some respects, not a lot has changed.)
I especially enjoyed the early chapters of the book that focus on the Dutch and the role of those settlers in forming the character of NYC -- many aspects of which endure today. And if you live in the city as I do, you will probably also enjoy knowing where some of the key colonial landmarks were located and what has happened to them over the centuries.
In short, this is a highly entertaining book whether or not you are a New Yorker, as it offers an interesting plot line, believable characters and what seems to me a realistic window on life in colonial America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Setting, Progessively Unravels
I wanted to love this book. I thought the early chapters were outstanding, but the book, it's characters, and the plot get increasingly hyperbolic and flinty, with a hurried,... Read more
Published 11 days ago by NeverNervousPervis
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would mostly ...
I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would mostly because it was fact based and not just a random joining of situations where historical figures occasionally appeared. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steve en Zaragoza
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most engaging books I have read in ...
One of the most engaging books I have read in a long time. Very informative about the history of New York City, originally New Amsterdam. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gerry Molina
1.0 out of 5 stars Yecchhh.
This book lost me in the first couple chapters -- I wasn't put off by the medical stuff, but by the explicit sexual language and descriptions. Read more
Published 3 months ago by pondscum
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read. Was the monthly selection for our book ...
A wonderful read. Was the monthly selection for our book club. Well written and absorbing storyline about New Amsterdam which became New York. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Judy K
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
On of the best books I have ever read!
Published 4 months ago by Janice Tebo
4.0 out of 5 stars Swerling weaves together several themes
City of Dreams was my first Beverly Swerling novel. I plan to read the next one. I have early Dutch ancestors in New York so I was interested in the early history of Manhattan and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Janet A. Alpert
5.0 out of 5 stars Not usually a fan of historical novels
Being from the Eastern part of the country, I was very interested to read a story about early Manhattan. The early medical practices were fascinating
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Just so so.
Published 6 months ago by J. J. Froyd
3.0 out of 5 stars Very sad.
Very informative, but a bit racy for my taste. It was quite an eye opener, though, as I hadn't realized that slavery was such a pervasive enterprise in the new world. Very sad.
Published 7 months ago by Joan H. Keefe
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More About the Author

I was born in a Boston suburb, went to school there and in Kansas City (don't ask),and have lived in many parts of the world, including England's Isle of Wight, and a Spanish Island just off the coast of Africa. Just now am in Philadelphia,but New York City remains home base.

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