Sean Sweeney's love of reading began in 1988, when he was handed J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Hobbit, and was given a needed boost with John Grisham novels and the Star Wars Expanded Universe. His passion for writing began in 1993, as a sophomore in high school, when he began writing sports for his local newspaper. Born and raised in North Central Massachusetts in 1977, Sweeney has written for several newspapers and radio stations. When he is not writing, he enjoys playing golf, reading, watching movies, enjoying the Boston Red Sox, the New England Revolution, Arsenal F.C., Gold Coast F.C., and playing with Caramel The Wonder Cat.
In many ways "Eminent Souls" is a story you've heard before. Boy and girl meet and fall in love. Their backgrounds are different. You could insert many things for the differences here: different religions, races, or social classes are the most obvious. One or both parents don't approve and keep them apart. In this case, we have Charlene, a rich, waspy, upper-crust lawyer-to-be, who meets Joe, a working-class Italian musician. Charlene's rich, powerful, and politically connected father takes exception to their relationship, and does whatever it takes to keep them apart
However, "Eminent Souls" is also hard to nail down. Is it a romance? Possibly; the obvious genre conventions seem to be met, yet it doesn't read like a typical romance novel. It is historical, but is well outside the period a historical romance reader would expect.
Almost as big a part of the book is another love story Joe and Charlene have with Scollay Square, an area that was once the epicenter for entertainment and nightlife in Boston. During the period covered by "Eminent Souls" the city, with financial help from federal redevelopment funds, demolished over 1,000 buildings and displaced at least 20,000 low-income residents, replacing the historical buildings and their unique architecture with a series of sterile government buildings, renaming the area Government Center.
For me, "Eminent Souls'" main appeal is in the Boston history: not just of the Scollay Square area, but sports, politics, and the mores of a different time.
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Joel Vetsch (an independent filmmaker) was once asked why it was that he loved his hometown so much. His response:
"There's a lot of stories here when you peel back the layers."
"Eminent Souls" by Sean Sweeney embodies this quote.
This is by no means my first dig into Mr. Sweeney's work. I have read (and enjoyed) several of his books. Hell, I've even reviewed a few of them on here, but this is the first time I can honestly say I "saw Sean."
Sean is an amazing writer, and cranks out a ton of material (about 6 books a year if I remember correctly from an interview I read) but the majority of what he writes (or at least what I have read) has been mass-market appeal thrillers. So when I agreed to read Eminent Souls (because I know he's talented, not because I actually read the synopsis - lazy me) that is what I expected. High-octane, no holds barred, in your face action. Instead I got a Romeo and Juliet-esq love story (minus the death of course...) set in a city that (until now) I gave very little thought to.
It is June 1953. The Boston Braves have left for Milwaukee, and the Korean Conflict nears its completion. And Scollay Square, Boston's illustrious entertainment district, is nearing its demise.
Charlene Phillips is a young Boston Brahmin lady whose mother has forbidden her to go to Scollay Square, its gin mills and burlesque houses. But on the urging of her friends, Charlene goes to the Crawford House. On stage is a young Italian singer, Joe Cafario. Joe is everything Charlene's parents detest - Italian, Catholic, poor. In time, the pair fall in love - until forced apart by Charlene's father.Read more ›