A Few Fall Books: Kolpan, Trigiani, & Ephron

Magic Words: The Tale of a Jewish Boy-Interpreter, the World’s Most Estimable Magician, a Murderous Harlot, and America’s Greatest Indian Chief by Gerald Kolpan

How can you not read a book with that title? Browsing the new fiction shelves of my library, I couldn’t resist it.   It’s historical fiction; there are some real life people as well as fictitious characters, set in 1867 Nebraska. Young immigrant Julius Meyer is sent to live with his brother, Max, a merchant. He has an uncanny knack for languages and accents that keeps him from being murdered when captured by the Ponca Indians. Instead, he becomes and aide to the chief, and the former red-haired, pale-faced European turns native. His cousins, Compars and Alexander Herrmann, are world-famous magicians competing for audiences across continents.   It’s an immigrant story; the Meyers (two other brothers not in the novel), are credited for founding much of the original commerce in Omaha as well as the town’s first symphony orchestra, opera house and synagogue.  It’s a fun Wild West story and a look into the cutthroat world of magic, a form of popular entertainment.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Here’s another immigrant story, spanning decades and continents. The novel begins in an Italian mountain village, crosses the Atlantic to New York’s Lower East Side, and eventually settles in Minnesota.  In between, there’s hard work, romance, family, and two World Wars.  Their mother, who’s mentally unable to take care of them after the death of her husband, leaves Ciro and his brother to be raised by nuns. Ciro meets Enza when he travels to her village to assist in the burial of Enza’s youngest sister who dies unexpectedly. There’s immediate chemistry, but they’re young. Ciro has to flee to New York after witnessing the priest involved with a local girl. He becomes an apprentice to a shoemaker and learns the trade and how to build a business. Years later, Enza arrives in New York and there’s a chance meeting. It takes them another several years to get together. At times I wish I could have shaken Ciro for being so neglectful. But marry they do. They move to Minnesota where Ciro and a partner establish a thriving shoe making business.  Maybe a bit predictable, but lovely imagery of the mountains, the boat crossing the Atlantic, the Lower East Side and other parts of Manhattan, and the West.

The Lion is In by Delia Ephron

No immigrant story here but certainly an American journey.   Tracey, wearing a stolen wedding dress, and her best friend Lana, a recovering alcoholic, decide they need to leave their town in Maryland. They pick up Rita, who’s standing on the side of the road, determined to escape her marriage to an abusive minister. They crash the car somewhere in North Carolina outside a closed bar. They creep inside to sleep and discover Marcel, an abandoned circus lion. As the story unfolds, the three women befriend a bunch of locals, work at the bar to pay for the car repair, and become enchanted by Marcel, who seems to help each find their way.  Sister of Nora, Delia delivers a fun, fast, and unbelievable tale.

On my night table now: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Forgetting River by Doreen Carvajal.

What’s on yours?

NOTE: Book Interrupted… sort of… Tangerine Tango Women Writers Share Slices of Life is on a hopefully  temporary hiatus at Amazon while the company figures out how to print quality books. A new Kindle version should also be ready soon.  The book, in perfect condition, is still available here:   https://www.createspace.com/3966178


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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2 Responses to A Few Fall Books: Kolpan, Trigiani, & Ephron

  1. I’ve read the Shoemaker’s Wife, because I met Adriana Trigiani at a fund raiser for our local homeless shelter. She’s a fascinating and funny person, and extremely generous, to boot. (She auctioned off posters and even a brunch with her in new York. The only cavil I have about this book is that because it’s based on her own family history, she may have fallen victim to the “but it really happened’ explanation for why the book is rather too long. But I’m not sorry I bought it!


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