The Crazyladies of Pearl Street Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook
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From Publishers Weekly
In this nostalgic, richly textured autobiographical novel about growing up on a poor Irish block in Albany, N.Y., prolific author Trevanian (Shibumi; Hot Night in the City; etc.) recalls his childhood during the Great Depression through World War II. In 1936, six-year-old narrator Jean-Luc La Pointe, his mother and younger sister leave Lake George Village for a gritty tenement in Albany to reunite with their deadbeat father and husband. He never shows up, and the penniless family makes do on their own: Luke's mother finds work as a waitress, and he fetches day-old bread on credit from the Socialist Jewish grocer across the street while steering clear of the Meehans from down the block, "a wild, drunken, dim-witted tribe... related in complex and unnatural ways." Affectionate portraits of the titular eccentric women punctuate Trevanian's sprawling tale: Luke observes the beleaguered and self-destructive Mrs. Meehan and meets the reclusive Mrs. McGivney, who perpetually relives a happier past while caring for a catatonic husband. Luke's "defiantly independent" mother, another "crazylady," marries the decent upstairs neighbor, but continues to idealize her con-man first husband. Though Trevanian's reminiscences make for a more atmospheric than carefully wrought novel, he sweetly evokes an innocent if hardscrabble lost age. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In 1936, in the Depression-era U.S., six-year-old Jean-Luc LaPointe; his three-year-old sister, Anne-Marie; and his mother, Ruby, are given a nugget of hope. The father and husband who abandoned them twice over has written claiming that after a stint in the slammer he's straightened out his life and wants them to come live with him. So Ruby packs up her children and heads to Albany, New York, to the shoddy, rundown apartment that's waiting for them on Pearl Street. Jean-Luc's father, however, is nowhere to be found, and Ruby is forced to go on welfare to support herself and her children. At school, Jean-Luc comes under the tutelage of a kindly teacher, who nurtures his potential and encourages him. It isn't long before the growing threat in Germany and the approach of World War II cast a shadow on Pearl Street, especially when Ben, the man with whom Ruby has found love, enlists in the army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Trevanian's gift is his eye for detail; readers looking to get a feel for the period will find much to enjoy here. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This richly textured coming of age story, through the depression reads more like a memoir than fiction. I listened to the audio version and Tom Bosely did an excellent job narrating. I listened to this book while working out at the gym. I could hardly wait for each workout to listen to more.
I was truly sorry that this delightful book had to end. I have never read a book by Trevanian before, but I plan to read more now.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Crazyladies of Pearl Street is an autobiographical book (sort of), which is narrated by the young Jean-Luke. The story beings with Jean-Luke, his mother and his sister Anne-Marie arriving at Pearl Street, basically a slum. His health-wise fragile, mood-wise fickle mother has received a mail from her husband asking them to join him in Albany. But we never meet the man. We learn that he is a conman, appearing for brief periods of time, enough to charm the mother and get her pregnant, then disappearing, never to be heard from again for many years. So begins the life of this small family on Pearl Street. It is actually the story of an impoverished family on welfare, hardly affording anything, feeding on what the government can spare them. But for a story of such destituteness, it is not a depressing one. Quite the contrary it is filled with nostalgia for a whole different time, when radio and going to the movies supplied the sole entertainment, when America learned to grow up with World War II, when even the soon to be criminal boys of ghetto did not swear. It is a real story that takes you to the 30s and 40s America. Yet I think the trick here isn't that those were the good old days, but that these are the childhood memories of our author. Like every other childhood memory, this one has a longing you can associate with, even though you have never listened to a radio show that did not include pop music in your life. I can only imagine that such childhood memoirs can be very boring as the subject of a novel, but this one's written by Trevanian and not even for one sentence does it lag. From the first page to the last, it is captivating. I love it when a novel can transport me to a time and place I have never been, and does it so successfully that I do not feel like a stranger for one minute, and Crazyladies of Pearl Street does just that.
For Trevanian fans, this novel is double fulfilling because it gives you an insight into the mind of this mysterious author. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his takes on radio versus television, IQ tests, religion, contemporary American politics... Some of which are in his cybernotes, not in the novel.
Highly recommended to Trevanian fans and non-fans alike.
what you have is maybe a couple hundred well-rendered vignettes, set in 1930's Albany NY amidst the hardships of the Depression Era,some of which are made quite moving by the realization of how deeply he loved life, and other people. It's a very compassionate novel, in my opinion.
trevanian had the rare (and sought-after) gift of being able to quickly put an idea, that most of us are still forming in the unconscious, into a sentence of a few carefully-chosen words.
every few dozen pages you might exclaim "that's exactly what i was thinking" or "yes, that's very true" or "that's very well-said."
I say "had" because unfortunately Trevanian (pen name of Dr. Rodney William Whitaker)passed away recently, Dec 14 of 2005).
This is his last novel.
i find him, in crazyladies of pearl street, to be reminiscing a childhood in amazingly minute detail. that's what this is. don't expect some complicated novel that resolves some gigantic issue, this is just a fragmented (how do you remember your own early childhood if not in separate snapshots?) series of stories: well-crafted, tender, compassionate, quite human, very American, uniquely Trevanian.
I have purchased several copies and sent them to family and friends who also experienced the 1930s when they and their families struggled to simply put food, any food, on the table; and children worked at any menial job that paid a few cents to assist.
When Travanian talked of shining shoes, delivering newspapers, carrying parcels, hiding and reading in the public library, all was familiar to me and my brothers.
The book is also very readable and enjoyable... as most of his are.
A nitty gritty bio that draws you in the way Angela's Ashes does. I became mesmerized by the flow of words and the pictures he evoked.
I've not read Trevanian's highly touted novels (Shibumi, The Eiger Sanction, etc.), but think I should give them a try after seeing his wonderful effort here.