Gina Attaviano is a feisty 14-year old from Sicily who disembarks in Boston at the turn of the 20th century to begin a new life in this melancholy romance from Simon (The Bronze Horseman). On the dock, her family meets real estate heir Harry Barrington and political scion Ben Shaw, Harvard students and best friends who become enamored with Gina. She pursues the older men by meeting them at Anti-Imperialism League gatherings and asking Harry to finance a loan for pizza restaurants to be run by her brother. After five years in America, Gina becomes "progressive" Jane with scandalously short dresses; socialist friends; an affinity for Emma Goldman, "Mother" Jones, and Eugene Debs; liaisons with an engaged lover; and a belief that children are "soul-destroying". Harry, "living a life that's a fraud," is indecisive, weak, confused, and bullied by his father; he romances lumber heiress Alice Porter for eight years, while trying to resist free-spirited Gina, whom Ben desires. Harry also struggles with his career as a Harvard economics instructor and Ph.D. candidate. His raw, final confrontation with his father, while gripping, results in loose threads and a bittersweet ending. Simons's ambitious period piece is distinguished by its substance, yet weighted by an overabundance of minor characters and subplots. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013 Release date: 02/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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