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Elizabeth Street [Kindle Edition]

Laurie Fabiano
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,702 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Based on true events, Elizabeth Street is a multigenerational saga that opens in an Italian village in the 1900's, and crosses the ocean to New York's Lower East Side. At the heart of the novel is Giovanna, whose family is targeted by the notorious Black Hand -the precursor to the Mafia. Elizabeth Street brings to light a period in history when Italian immigrant neighborhoods lived in fear of Black Hand extortion and violence-a reality that defies the romanticized depiction of the Mafia. Here, the author reveals the merciless terror of the Black Hand-and the impact their crimes had on her family. Giovanna is based on Fabiano's great-grandmother, and the book's heroes and villains - such as Lieutenant Petrosino, the crusading cop and "Lupo the Wolf," a cold-blooded criminal - are drawn from real life in this thrilling tale. While set in a dynamic historical context, Elizabeth Street is, above all, the dramatic story of the heroine, Giovanna, and how she triumphed over tragedy.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description: In Elizabeth Street, Laurie Fabiano tells a remarkable and previously unheard story of the Italian immigrant experience at the start of the 20th century. Culled from her own family history, Fabiano paints an entrancing portrait of Giovanna Costa, who, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life in a new world. Shot through with the smells and sights of Scilla, Italy, and New York’s burgeoning Little Italy, this intoxicating story follows Giovanna as she finds companionship, celebrates the birth of a baby girl, takes pride in a growing business, and feels a sense of belonging on a family outing to Coney Island.

However, these modest successes are rewarded with the attention of the notorious Black Hand, a gang of brutal extortionists led by Lupo the Wolf. As the stakes grow higher and higher, readers share with Giovanna her desperate struggle to remain outside the fray, and then to fight for--and finally to save--that which is important above all else: family.

Amazon Exclusive: Maria Laurino Reviews Elizabeth Street

Maria Laurino is the author of the memoirs Old World Daughter, New World Mother, a meditation on contemporary feminism, and the national bestseller, Were You Always an Italian?, an exploration of ethnic identity. Laurino's journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and The Nation, and her essays have been widely anthologized. Read her exclusive guest review of Elizabeth Street:

When readers first meet Giovanna Costa, the protagonist of Elizabeth Street, she is a young woman about to get married in the small Italian fishing village of Scilla, situated between the Calabrian coast and Sicily’s Aeolian Islands. The town is home to the ancient story of Scylla, the once beautiful nymph turned mythical monster that devoured sailors trying to navigate the Straits of Messina. Midway through Laurie Fabiano’s page-turning novel, which is based on her own family history, Giovanna has landed in the New World but finds herself lodged between Scylla and Charybdis. She arrives grief stricken in New York after her beloved husband, Nunzio, has been killed on a badly managed construction site in Brooklyn. Eventually she will settle into an arranged second marriage, but her troubles continue to multiply. Giovanna will be forced to combat the nefarious forces of the Black Hand, the precursor to the Italian-American Mafia, which has threatened to tear apart her new family.

Supporting herself in New York first as a midwife, Giovanna teams up with a woman doctor from northern Italy. The two become close friends and the doctor shares medical knowledge that Giovanna will combine with her holistic midwifery skills. But Giovanna’s fate changes after deciding to open a small fruit and vegetable market with her new husband. The store is an easy source of potential revenue for criminals offering "protection services," and soon Giovanna’s family becomes their prey. With the same mix of disciplined study and the pinch of southern Italian mysticism that she applied to midwifery, Giovanna will take on the ruthless organized crime syndicate that has kidnapped her daughter and murdered the police lieutenant assigned to protect the neighborhood.

Mario Puzo once claimed, years after writing The Godfather, that he had based the infamous character of Don Corleone on his mother. Fabiano has created in Elizabeth Street a southern Italian heroine fighting those criminal forces that have long victimized poor and vulnerable immigrants. In this multigenerational, well-researched tale, the reader also learns interesting details of the common struggles facing southern Europeans coming to America--how, for instance, Ellis Island inspectors were instructed to mark northern and southern Italians as two separate races; and how the wages for common laborers in parts of the country were divided into three categories, the highest salary paid to "whites," the middle scale for "coloreds," and the lowest amount to "Italians."

Elizabeth Street is both a fascinating immigrant story and an intimate portrait of how a first-generation American--and the author’s own great-grandmother--outwits one of the most brutal crime organizations of the early 20th century. --Maria Laurino

From Booklist

First novelist Fabiano is dead-on in her portrait of the Italian-American immigrant experience. This engrossing cross-generational saga centers on the experiences of Giovanna Costa, from the small Italian fishing village where she is born to the bustling streets of New York's Lower East Side where she struggles to raise her family and make a living as a midwife after the death of her first husband. In America, the resourceful Giovanna and her second husband eventually open a fruit and vegetable stand, attracting the unwanted attentions of the notorious “Black Hand” crime organization. When Giovanni refuses to meet their demands, her daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom. Basing this story--including the kidnapping--on her own family's immigrant experiences, Fabiano provides a wealth of period detail, infusing the compulsively readable narrative with an authentic sense of time, place, and community. --Margaret Flanagan

Product Details

  • File Size: 12667 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B006TR1J62
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 4, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030AOBR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,136 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
179 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read in a long time! December 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Now that I have finished reading Elizabeth Street, I miss the characters and wish to be in their lives again. That is because the author depicted the characters in such a vivid and clear way, that I became emotionally involved with them. I don't know if the novel is historical fiction, a detective story, or a story about the human condition - all of the above, actually. While immersed in this novel, I felt the wonderful warmth of an Italian family; the strength and courage of a mother and other characters; and the suspense of a kidnapping. I could see, in my mind, New York City in the early 1900's. The author obviously did extensive and impeccable research. Her greatest strength, though, is her ability to tell a beautifully written and fascinating story. I do wish there were more novels like this one!
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249 of 270 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs you quickly and doesn't let go June 26, 2009
Elizabeth Street is the rare book that combines a rich historical setting and focus with a brilliantly faced-paced narrative. It is a page turner that manages to bring the reader back and forth from the streets of new york to villages and hamlets in Italy. I was sceptical since this is not my normal genre but its a great read and I ended up very much appreciating an unknown and richly fascinating part of the American Experience.
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151 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TRULY AMAZING!!! November 23, 2009
I cannot say enough about this book! From the minute I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! I immediately related to the characters and felt as if I knew them. I couldn't wait to read it to see what would happen next; but at the same time, had to slow myself down because I didn't want the characters to NOT be a part of my life anymore.
Laura Fabiano does a truly amazing job of allowing her readers into her family lives to walk with them through their incredible journey. I feel blessed that I was able to meet Laura at a book signing and read her book. I have highly recommended this book to friends and family and everyone who reads it LOVES IT!! This is one book EVERYONE MUST READ!!! Thank you Laura!
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful, Suspenseful, Sicilian, Superb November 3, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful first novel by Laurie Fabiano. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a family story built on recollections, secrets and untold stories, steeped in the history of both southern Italy and NYC at the turn of the century. It is a heartfelt, suspenseful story of which reveals so much about the life and times of the Italian immigrants who came to this country. You fall in love, you are terrorized, you are angered...just as the main character, Laurie's great grandmother, Giovanna was - and you are amazed by her strength and determination.
I used to live in NYC - a stones throw from Mulberry St. "Elizabeth Street" is like a time machine, bringing to life Little Italy in a time I never knew but now can well imagine.
I wish I had been able to read this when I lived there ! Bravo.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Turn of the Century Novel April 30, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The author states that this is a true story based on real events of her family. They came from Italy, settled in the Lower East Side of New York. The story starts with her great grandmother's life (Giovanna) in Italy and how she ended up in NYC.

It is captivating and fast-paced. It definitely reads like a novel and the historical element is just right for those who love history and those who do not. The balance struck was perfect.

The author captures a new immigrant's life in the ghetto, around the turn of the twentieth century, so that we can visualize what they experienced. Giovanna and her family are shown struggling in America but she is a very smart woman and learns quickly. When the Black Hand, the precursor to the mafia, kidnaps her 4 year old daughter, she survives it by showing her grit and street smarts.

This was an enjoyable read- a book I could not put down!
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156 of 182 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Guess I'm in the minority here May 18, 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Elizabeth Street" tells the dramatic story of an Italian immigrant family. The narrative involves
birthes, deathes, natural disasters, a lawsuit and a kidnapping through unwanted attention from the Black Hand. First of all, I want to state that I did enjoy the book. Giovanna is one gutsy heroine, and I was rooting for her and her family all the way through.

That said, there were some problems that I believe would be easily dealt with by a bit more editing. One was the persistent avoidance of the word "said." Characters mumbled and barked, growled and roared, and a whole lot more. IMHO, all that does is draw attention to how many synonyms the author knows and detracts from what the characters are actually saying. Second, I felt that the characters, while sympathetic, were basically divided into heroes or villains. The switches to the villains' viewpoints were abrupt and did nothing to develop their characters. I do think this book has the potential to be outstanding, it just needs more work. But again, I'm in the minority.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book! January 28, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I have done significant research into my own family's journey from Italy to America, this book helped me "picture" the whole experience and understand events that were happening at the turn of the century in a much more tangible fashion. I love this book! I have told so many people about the storyline and how it grabs you and won't let go until you finish and they have all asked to borrow it so that they can read it. I tell them that I will not part with this book, I want to keep it and read it again from time to time. They will have to purchase their own copies themselves! Once again, loved this book, I can't say that enough!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good true story
Lots of characters. Very good true story.
Published 2 days ago by Janice K. Greene
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I really really enjoyed this book.
Published 7 days ago by kathy
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I understand !
A very informative book. I married a second generation Italian and had heard a few
mentions of the Purple Gang's threat to one of his grandfathers in Detroit. Read more
Published 8 days ago by BETTY QUAIATTO
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Enjoyed this book very much would recommend to all italian readers who enjoy reading about what the italians went through when they came to america
Published 9 days ago by sandy
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining snapshot into Italian immigration in the early 20th...
Entertaining snapshot into Italian immigration in the early 20th century in NYC and based upon a real life story of making it in the USA.
Published 9 days ago by G. Mascioli
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read.
Great combination of historical fact & story-telling to set the tone for the immigration experience at the turn of the 20th century.
Published 9 days ago by Sue Braun
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
If you like history and enjoy biographies, you will like this book. It almost makes you wish that you had an Italian history.
Published 11 days ago by Kathy
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book!
Easy flowing read
Published 12 days ago by b.tourdot
3.0 out of 5 stars Especially enjoyed the history of early 20th century NYC and learning...
Especially enjoyed the history of early 20th century NYC and learning more about Sicily and the connections between the two. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Barbara B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book, true story, insightful. This book is hard to put down. Well written and has historical significance. Highly recommended read.
Published 16 days ago by Linda D. Lewis
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More About the Author

Laurie Fabiano has had an exciting and colorful career in the non-profit world. After graduating college, she moved to her family's hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, established the Hoboken Cultural Council, and created an innovative three-month arts and cultural festival. She went on to coordinate New York City's July 4th celebration. After involvement in local political campaigns, she became Deputy Mayor of Hoboken during the administration of Thomas Vezzetti, a reform candidate dubbed "The Wackiest Mayor in America." When she left the Mayor's office, she continued a project she initiated - taking the first American Baseball team to the Soviet Union for a "Goodwill Tour." In 1988, AIDS was at its peak and motivated by the death of a family member, Fabiano became an AIDS activist. For seven years she produced the AIDS Walks and AIDS Dance-a-thons around the country, raising millions of dollars and AIDS awareness. In the past decade, as the Robin Hood Foundation's Senior Vice President, she helped grow the Foundation into the largest private organization fighting poverty in New York City. She is now the President of Fab Tool, a marketing and events company.

Fabiano comes from a creative and close Italian family and loves all things Italian. Elizabeth Street, her first novel, is her family's story. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey with her husband Joe and their daughter Siena.

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How do I borrow from the Kindle Prime Lending Library?
OK, here's what I did on a Kindle Fire: Tap "Books" from the menu at the top of the screen. Tap the "Store" icon in the top right corner of the screen. Tap the little three horizontal line icon in the upper left corner of the screen and choose the Kindle Owners' Lending... Read More
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Audio Dictionary
If she has a Kindle with audio, it will "read" to her, and she could move the cursor from word to word. I think it would be hard to keep up with the reader, though. Maybe there is a way to have only highlighted words read aloud. Call Amazon Customer Service and ask.

In case you... Read More
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