Russian immigrant Malka arrives in 1913 Manhattan, where she struggles to survive and learns trade secrets from an Italian ices peddler before setting off across America in an ice cream truck with a handsome, illiterate radical to seek their fortunes. 75,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
Russian immigrant Malka arrives in 1913 Manhattan, where she struggles to survive and learns trade secrets from an Italian ices peddler before setting off across America in an ice cream truck with a handsome, illiterate radical to seek their fortunes. - (Baker & Taylor)
In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.
Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen" -- doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality.
Lillian's rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake. - (Grand Central Pub)
As a child, Malka Treynovsky unwittingly helps her father dupe her mother about their destination when they flee the Russian pogroms for America, thus starting a life of deception that would become second nature. After her father abandons the family and her mother loses her mind, Malka is hideously crippled in a bizarre accident. In a scene straight out of Dickens, the orphaned invalid is adopted by an ambitious Italian ice-cream vendor who renames her Lillian and transforms her into the image of a dutiful Catholic daughter. When she falls in love with the movie-star-handsome Jewish immigrant Albert Dunkle, Lillian is cast out of the family, but not before learning everything about the ice-cream business. As she and Bert build an empire that catapults them, Forrest Gump–like, into the twentieth century's biggest events, Lillian assumes the self-proclaimed role of America's Ice Cream Queen and vows to do whatever it takes to survive. Travel memoirist Gilman (Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven, 2009) presents an ambitious and lavish immigrant rags-to-riches-to-rags first novel rife with humor and moxie. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
After fleeing Russia in 1913 for Manhattan's dismal Lower East Side, 13-year-old Malka Treynovsky is abandoned by her family and eventually sets off across America in an ice cream truck. A debut novel from the author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress; with a 75,000-copy first printing.
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Library Journal Reviews
At the heart of memoirist Gilman's (Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress; Kiss My Tiara) first novel is ice cream entrepreneur Lillian Dunkle, a fascinating character who, like American businesswoman Leona Helmsley, believes that "only the little people pay taxes." At 75, Lillian is bravely facing federal tax evasion charges. The press and the public perceive this as a case of Lillian getting her just desserts, but as the narrative backtracks to her early life, readers learn that Lillian has not always been so rich or felt so entitled. The youngest of four daughters in a poor Russian Jewish family, she is born Malka Treynovsky and touches down on New York City's Lower East Side as a child in the early 20th century. Run over by a horse cart and permanently crippled within three months of her arrival, she is quickly abandoned. When the kindly Italian ices peddler who ran her over takes her in, Malka learns self-reliance. Through grit, wits, and some luck, she builds a prosperous life for herself and her family. VERDICT With its vivid depictions of old New York City tenement life and its tale of the American ice cream business set against the backdrop of the major events of the 20th century, this rags-to-riches saga will appeal greatly to readers of American historical novels. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/13.]—Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC
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