I bought this book based on having read The Red Tent by the same author. I knew her writing to be compelling in that book and in some ways that is also true of this story. The Boston Girl opens with 85 year old Addie Baum recording her early life memories for her granddaughter Ava. We follow her story during the early years of the 20th century we become privy to the hardships her Jewish Russian immigrant parents endured as they tried to make a life for themselves and their daughters. As the youngest of three girls, Addie rarely, if ever, receives a kind word from her mother whose love is lavished on middle daughter Celia; her father, a religious elder, doesn’t pay much attention to her either. In most of the domestic arts Addie is not skilled, her interest lying in learning and in books. To escape the constant tensions of family life, Addie joins a group of other young girls called the Saturday Club. It is here that she meets her best friend Filomena (an Italian Catholic) as well as her mentor Miss Chevalier. As Addie’s memories unfold we follow her growing up, taking her first vacation, flirting with men, and finally finding her true vocation as well as her true love.
It is a touching story that will keep you turning pages until the very end in 1985. This reader would have liked more information or reminiscences about Addie’s later life – her marriage, raising her children, her career. As this story stands, we can only guess at all of that. The reader should keep in mind that this is an old woman’s memoir and as such there really isn’t any action involved. It is, simply and beautifully, a story.
Rating: 4 Stars