What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York’s streets were paved with violence and disappointment.
Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She’s ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection.
Azzura, Leonardo, and Carlo confront con men, Tammany Hall politicians, the longshoreman’s union, Camorra clans, Black Hand extortion, and the Tombs prison.
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I recieved a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.
Birds of Passage is about Italian immigrants who found their way to New York at the turn of the century. What they found were ghettos, violence, gangs, corruption, and prejudice. There’s a lot of history included in this novel but it’s well presented and it kept my interest.
The characters are interesting. Azzura was born in America to Italian parents so she doesn’t understand some of the Italian ways, such as vendettas. She’s my favorite character, though, because she knows what she believes and what she wants. She almost gives in to her parents and tradition at one point, but she comes to her senses and stays headstrong and independent. Leonardo and Carlo start out as opposites. Leonardo just wants to find his destiny while Carlo is a spoiled aristocrat who ends up having to run to America after committing a crime. Eventually, New York corrupts Leonardo and he ends up just like Carlo. It was pretty sad but I can see how that could happen.
I really enjoyed Birds of Passage. It had been a while since I read historical fiction about early America, which is my favorite. The only thing I didn’t like was the end, but if you like historical fiction, I definitely recommend it.
Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe’s stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.
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