cover image North River

North River

Pete Hamill, . . Little, Brown, $25.99 (341pp) ISBN 978-0-316-34058-8

T he North River is what real New Yorkers call the Hudson. Two blocks from its shore, Dr. James Finbar Delaney lives on Horatio Street in Greenwich Village. He is a GP, servicing the indigent poor. A wounded veteran of World War I, he is despondent that his wife, Molly, has deserted him and that his only child, Grace, has left her son, two-year-old Carlito, in his care. In the dead of winter in the Depression year of 1934, Dr. Delaney knows “the cause of death was always life.” Delaney is numb from the war and the abandonment of his family. When he saves the life of gangster friend Eddie Corso, Italian hood Frankie Botts is not happy. Delaney can feel the threat to him and his grandson in his bones. To further complicate matters, the FBI shows up looking for Grace. If there’s any consolation for Delaney in the chaos that has become his life, it’s Carlito and Rose, his Sicilian illegal alien housekeeper, who has become little Carlito’s surrogate mother—and Delaney’s lover. Soon the North River comes to symbolize Delaney’s tormented life, as enemies and loved ones float in it, and Grace, on a liner, returns to New York to further complicate Delaney’s new, delicate household. Hamill (Forever ; A Drinking Life ) has crafted a beautiful novel, rich in New York City detail and ambience, that showcases the power of human goodness and how love, in its many forms, can prevail in an unfair world. 5-city author tour. (June)