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Swimming in the Moon: A Novel Paperback – September 3, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Lucia D'Angelo and her mother, Teresa, work as servants at a quiet seaside villa in Naples until Teresa's eruptive temper costs them their jobs and forces them to flee to America in Schoenewaldt's touching second novel (When We Were Strangers). Arriving in Cleveland in 1904, Lucia and her mother struggle to get by in their new lives, living in close quarters with other immigrants, working long hours in poor conditions for little pay. While Lucia quickly picks up English and begins to excel in school, her mother continues acting out at her factory job, threatening their livelihood and Lucia's dreams of attending college. Evoking the challenges new immigrants faced in early 20th century America, Schoenewaldt illustrates Lucia's poignant struggle between her ambitions and her loyalty to her mother with striking verisimilitude. Once news of New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire reaches Cleveland, Lucia realizes her own neighbors deserve better treatment and helps lead a strike against the city's factory owners. A rich cast of characters and a timeless story of family strife bring life to this thoughtful and emotional historical fiction. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)
“From the sun-baked cobblestones of Naples to a crowded boardinghouse in Cleveland to a grand vaudeville hall in Chicago, Pamela Schoenewaldt brings to vivid life a compelling, richly detailed world.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train)
A beautifully rendered and poignant family drama that teems with the life of early 20th Century America…Schoenewaldt has given us a whole universe between the covers of this book. (Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace Dana Sachs, author of The Secret of the Nightingale Palace Dana Sa)
“Lush with historical detail, Swimming in the Moon celebrates the power of the mother-daughter relationship. Pamela Schoenewaldt delivers another novel full of richly realized characters, who transport us to the immigrant neighborhoods of early twentieth century America.” (Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye)
“A must read for anyone who enjoys beautiful, richly drawn characters, and a historical setting so realistic that one would believe they had been transported to another time. A glorious, unforgettable novel, A+.” (Pittsburg Examiner)
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Top customer reviews
Schoenewaldt explores two major themes in this novel - mental illness and labor history. The first, the horrific treatment of the mentally ill, is unfortunately a legacy still with us. Lucia's mother, a talented singer, is plagued by delusions and spells of mania and catatonia. Her illness, and need for care, become a millstone that both limits Lucia's possibilities and strengthens her resolve to achieve her dreams. We see the most inhumane of treatments, and a gleam of the chance to deal with the mentally ill in a kinder, more scientific manner. I was especially pleased with the detailed history of the labor movement in Cleveland. As labor loses it's influence in the current century, it's good to be reminded what work life was like before the change brought about by unions, and what enormous effort it took for ordinary people to bring about that change.
Pamela Schoenewaldt's prose is rich and full of vivid imagery. Her characters feel real and multidimensional. That skill, combined with careful historical research and detail, make this a book worth reading.
As their journey takes them to America, Pamela brings such a raw and open view to the struggle immigrants faced, the challenges of learning a foreign language, and assimilating into a culture that isn't very accepting of foreigners. Told in such vivid detail, the scenes are quite dynamic and the reader will identify with different parts of the story, regardless of his/her own family history.
Pamela covers so many topics: mental illness, single motherhood, women's rights, immigration issues, abuse, worker's rights, women's rights, and self-empowerment. There were many times that I simply had to put the book down and cry. While the book is fiction, there were some incidents that truly did happen, and it simply took my breath away.
If readers have read Pamela's first book, When We Were Strangers, they will love that Lula has a role in this book!! Lula is the "wise woman" in the book and is a mother figure for Lucia. While the book doesn't cover racism in the way Americans know it to be (black vs. white), it was quite interesting to read about the way immigrants from different countries viewed each other, and the lack of trust they had for one another based on what they heard in their communities. The stereotypes and ignorance truly impacted relationships and kept people from uniting, until they had a similar cause: worker's rights, later-women's rights.
While the book covers many issues, the story doesn't get bogged down with too much information, nor does it dilute the relationships developed between characters. Told through Lucia's point of view, it is quite interesting to see that as she grows, the decisions she makes reflect her maturity. In the beginning, she simply wants safety and to be with her mother. As she grows up, she begins to realize her own dreams and works towards accomplishing those. Then, as an adult, she realizes her dreams are bigger and aren't just about herself.
This is simply an exceptional story, and the discussions would be endless in a classroom setting, book club, between friends over coffee, or even amongst friends online!! It's a book that will leave you wanting to know more about Lucia and her relationships with her friends and family, the plight for women's/worker's rights, and the way mental illness evolves over time. I highly recommend this book and could definitely see a sequel becoming a success...and maybe, even a movie!!
There is so much to discover in this book, that I know you will be inspired and motivated through Lucia's journey!
Interesting and recommended to fans of historical fiction!
Most recent customer reviews
The characters were excellent in every way.I truly didn't want
this book to end.Read more