April 6, 2015 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster AU, 1 January 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Courtesy of the Publisher
Rating: 2.5 stars
Other books from author: The Red Tent, Day After Night, The Last Days of Dogtown and more…
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When Addie Baum’s 22-year old granddaughter asks her about her childhood, Addie realises the moment has come to relive the full history that shaped her.
Addie Baum was a Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant Jewish parents who lived a very modest life. But Addie’s intelligence and curiosity propelled her to a more modern path. Addie wanted to finish high school and to go to college. She wanted a career, to find true love. She wanted to escape the confines of her family. And she did.
Told against the backdrop of World War I, and written with the same immense emotional impact that has made Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in the early 20th Century, and a window into the lives of all women seeking to understand the world around them.
What I Thought…
After reading that synopsis, I was really looking forward to this one. It sounded like it would be right up my alley, and it’s set in one of my all-time favourite cities. Unfortunately, I struggled to read this one and it simply didn’t resonate with me.
While I struggled to read this book, I actually enjoyed Addie’s story. It was interesting and kept me entertained throughout. We follow her journey from childhood to young adulthood to adulthood, and while it felt a bit longwinded it was by no means boring. The book is set in the early 1900s, and makes the journey throughout the decades as Addie grows up. A great deal of emphasis was placed on Addie’s desires to study and not simply become another housewife, which was downright revolutionary for that era. I enjoyed reading about the trials and tribulations she faced, both in her family and in her working life, and all the characters she met along the way.
Unfortunately, I think there were a few too many characters in this book and I lost track of most of them. The book wasn’t very long, 320 pages, but some of the characters weren’t particularly memorable and I’d forgotten about them completely by the time they came around again. Don’t get me wrong, some of the characters were quite memorable, particularly her sisters and brother-in-law, and there was no forgetting those close to Addie. However, I’m not the best with names in real life, and I think there were just too many names for me to remember. Also, Addie goes on and on about people being named for other people, but they don’t share the same name, only the first letter of their first name… I really didn’t get that, and it bugged me every time it was raised.
What I found most difficult when reading this novel was the writing style. The premise of the book is Addie’s recounting of her life to her granddaughter, and the novel was written as if it were a transcript of Addie’s interview. I wasn’t expecting this, at all, and I found it rather hard to get into. The language used was also very basic, which was disappointing given that we find out Addie is a writer and a lover of words. Additionally, the tale was very linear from start to finish and I didn’t find that to be particularly engaging.
If you like first person, historical novels that read like a transcript, this is likely to be the book for you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the book for me. If it weren’t for the fact that I wanted to know how Addie’s story ended, despite my issues with the writing style, I probably would’ve DNFed this book after the first few chapters. That proved to be the saving grace, however it still wasn’t enough to overcome my overall feelings about this book.
What did you think of this book? Did you enjoy it?