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From Paullina Simons who brought you the unforgettable The Bronze Horseman comes the much-anticipated Children of Liberty.
"Never forget where you came from." At the turn of the century and the dawning of the modern world, Gina sails from Sicily to Boston's Freedom Docks to find a new and better life, and meets Harry Barrington, who is searching for his own place in the old world of New England. She is a penniless unrefined immigrant, he a first family Boston Blue-blood, yet they are hopelessly drawn to one another. Over their denials, their separations, and over time, Gina and Harry long to be together. Yet their union would leave a path of destruction in its wake that will swallow two families.
The fates of the Barringtons and Attavianos become entwined, on a collision course between the old and the new, between what is expected and what is desired ...what is chosen and what is bestowed ...what is given and what is taken away. Torn and torn apart, Gina and Harry face the cruellest choice of all - between what they cannot have and what they cannot live without.
Paullina Simon's series "The Bronze Horseman" is my favourite all time set of books - i couldn't wait to get my hands on this which is the prequel to the series. The novel is the love story between Alexander's parents Gina and Harry. Having read wide variety of Simon's books, i find her very hit and miss. I'm not sure how someone who writes so amazing in some novels, can get it so wrong in others. Its almost like its two different authors.
This i am sad to say is a miss from Simons for me. The novel brings in many historical elements as the Bronze Horseman does, but in Children of Liberty the story is so disjointed and it fumbles between story lines making it tedious, un-moving and in believable. The love story is the most unrealistic. Gina who is an Italian immigrant ends up with Harry who's family is influential and very wealthy. The way the story weaves between the family's is weak as Simon's fails to establish their relationship is scarce, it lacks the depth and description she gives in the Bronze Horseman.
She attempts to deal with political and current issues of the time such as the Panama Canal, women's rights and education and the immigrant statuses in America when emigration was at a high. All this feels superficial and like its brushed over with little depth or feeling. I think that if the novel was a story on its own, without the attachment or knowledge it was attached to the Bronze Horseman series it wouldn't attribute such criticism, but in my opinion it lets the series down.
I did enjoy the story line about Salvo and Harry's influence about helping him set up pizza restaurants , I found this to be more realistic as being a History major at uni, American immigration interests me. The way the towns were set up and the description of the locations and why for the pizza restaurants was excellent. The story line hangs at the end and doesn't finish neatly with Harry's money in Salvo's restaurants and i want to know what happened. Perhaps the details are given in the other books - its been a while since i read it, and it would seem like a minor detail if not reading Children of Liberty first.
Overall this book was a massive disappointment to me, i wouldn't recommend anyone read it apart from the "want to see what it is about" factor, even then it gives nothing to the other books. Its not needed and i wish Simon's had produced this on its own so it wasn't attached to the series. I purchased this book on the Kindle, so value for money was good compared to paying for the paperback version.
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. It took me at least the first three chapters before I really got into it. I found Paullina Simons writing styles to be very confusing its as if other people came in and wrote a couple of the chapters for her. Once the story actually began and Gina and her family had settled into America and began living there lives the book took a different path and the writing completely changed again and I started to enjoy it.
This book is a romance but also had a very strong political element to it. It was very focused on womans rights and the building of the Panama Canal and also the introduction of Bananas. I did not enjoy the political aspect to the book but really enjoyed the romance although it was slow going. I actually thought Harry was dreaming when Gina and him finally did kiss. Her writing completely changed again and it was as if you were watching a silent movie it was really strange! I had to reread it when I realised it was actually happening and all I could think was who is this new writer. I also did not enjoy it when a group of people would be talking and she would say 'that was bla bla speaking' it was like she was commentating even though a second before you were being part of the dialogue. Very confusing writing technique.
I am so glad I was not 'brought up in this era' as not being able to show your shoes as you would not be considered a woman was so far removed to what we are used to. Also did not like the end at all, maybe I am a hopeless romantic but really was a depressing ending, but then I guess life is not a fairy tale.
Would I read this book again NO I would not. Would I recommend it ummmm that is difficult - if you are into American history and want to see how immigrants were treated and also find out how little a woman was valued then yes you might enjoy it.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)