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The Bells of Brooklyn

The Bells of Brooklyn: Catherine Gigante Brown

Within the pages of this saga you will meet a family that everyone will grow to love, adore and want to become a part of. The Paradiso family is just like any other family except they are not. The bond among the family members is strong and the ties that bind them will be tested to the limit as you cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, find yourself listening to the Bells of St. Catherine’s signaling specific times of the day and smell the fantastic aromas and smells created by the members of this family. The mother is Bridget, the father we shall call Poppa, Rose, Angela, Tiger, Astrid are just some of the cast of characters that will keep you riveted to the pages of this story as we meet Sully, Harry, Aunt Jo, Wendy, Stanley, the bartenders and many more who will fill the pages of this book with their stories of life, survival, obstacles overcome, love, fear, joys and all wrapped together during the holiday season. Enter the world of the Paradiso family as we get to know them one by one.

Rose and Sully are just starting out in their relationship and have begun to get closer when something happens that will change it all. On Christmas Eve 1937 Sully and Harry received a call about an abandoned child found at all familiar address. Snowing but the two men ran to the Paradiso home and learned an infant boy was left on their doorstep with a the note defining who the child belonged to and the child’s name. “To Whom it May Concern:
I just can’t do it no more.

His name is Stanley Anthony Martino. For the only man who ever did right by me and the man whom did me wrong? My father and his father.

That’s how precious Stanley became part of their lives and brought Sully and Rosanna together as life partners. But, for years Stanley would grow up with the love of these two people and the rest of the family but what happens when the truth comes rearing through?
Wendy and Stanley are cousins and Wendy loves reading Honey Bunch. Harry and Aunt Jo are her parents and Harry has his own demons to overcome losing a limb and at times feeling out of place and no longer able to work on the police force. The family came together as Jo Leary, Harry’s wife created a downstairs apartment for themselves so that he would not have to climb the stairs that were hard to climb when he came back from war. The author shares their special moments together as we get to know more about Harry, Jo and now Denise, Stanley’s mother will reenter the picture as she has made it her quest to see her son, following him and Wendy to and from school and at other times during the day. Thinking she is invisible she is not as the author takes us back in time to Coney Island, the rides, the arcades, the great food stands, my favorite Nathans and how she met Tony and their encounter leading to have having Stanley and sharing the famous Parachute wedding that readers can experience along with Denise and Tony but those afraid of heights watch from the ground. Denise comes back to the present as we see the change in her appearance, the Yellow Queen and the sadness in her eyes as she walks the cold and frigid streets, enters many bars, tries to get some money from men for services and then returns to her spartan apartment with practically nothing to eat and little to keep her warm.

There is much more to this story as we get to know each character individually but first the preparations for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the foods that will create hunger pains in every reader as each member of the family contributes in some way including the fun of decorating their own trees and the special ornaments they hang. Stanley and Wendy are best pals and do everything together and it will come to pass that they will learn the true meaning of love and family. But, many other obstacles have to be overcome as Angela is struggling with her pregnancy and it takes Jo and Bridget to get her up and out and not spending nine months feeling afraid and sorry for herself while Augie works at the movie theater. Bridget is a strong character and the respect given to this grandmother and mother is heartfelt. She reminds me of my grandmother and Mrs. Leibowitz’s food is just what my grandmother would make from scratch too. I can smell the latkes and the Kasha, which were my favorite not withstanding the pasta and the great cakes.

When Christmas Eve comes the family gets a surprise as Tiger/Anthony comes into the house, home from war but in reality he feels disjointed, apart from the rest and needs time to find his way back into the fold.

Angela and Augie are spotlighted next as she shares her fears, and trepidations with having a child hoping not to miscarriage. Spending her days in bed reading but finally with the encouragement of her Aunt Jo she rises up and begins to join the family helping with preparations. Angela and Rose as well as Harry and even Sully face their own pasts and demons each one trying to overcome what they fear will take away their comfort and happiness.

As the holiday comes about and the guests pile into the home of the Paradiso’s and the many dishes are placed on the table you can hear the banter, the conversation and the aroma and smells that fill the air. The many courses would fill anyone up and the leftovers alone will keep each separate family not having to cook for days.

Speaking out loud we hear that Harry met with Denise and although he is no longer a beat cop he tried to befriend her but would that make Jo happy and how would Rose feel? Harry was not a stranger to discord and trouble and realized trouble was part of the job. He noticed the Blonde, and could not leave it alone and recanted his encounter with Denise Walters. It bothered him and after walking back outside and into Stumble Inn, he and Sully shared conversation, a drink and Denise. Stan is smart and always with Wendy but what will happen if he learns the truth about his real mother? Talking about the encounter Rose was worried that Denise wanted to snatch Stanley. Fear comes from not understanding what someone else’s intentions might be and then we learn more about Astrid who seems to be afraid to let anyone into her world, alienates herself and somehow she might have a kind heart yet seems so self-centered and aloof. Will that change and why does Sam, her soon to be ex- keep coming back for more?
The miracle of Christmas begins when Tiger arrives home the outpouring of love shines through but even Tiger needs time to adjust to this huge crowd but Stanley’s love for him will overcome a lot for not just Tiger but him too.

Within each family there are obstacles, sadness and potential loses but as we learn more about Bridget and Poppa and then Tiger and his torment trying to find a place for himself we realize that the issue of age comes to light, PTSD and the future of a nine year old child whose image of his real mother is the Yellow Queen and that he and Wendy realize that she is there but do not know why and who she is but that will change very soon.

Tiger gets up the following day and the author shares the many places in Brooklyn that he wanted to revisit, places like Mulberry Street, Coney Island, Prospect Ave, the many stores, bars, restaurants and friends that he’s not seen over the years. But, the most touching part of the book is when he and Stanley spend a special day together bonding, talking, going to the famous Automat and have a blast getting food, his realization of being treated special because he fought in the war and going to Radio City to see the Christmas show.

Each character worries about something and the final part of the book focuses on their vigils. But, first Stanley would meet his real mother and decide for himself if he wanted to visit her again since she was terminal and in the hospital.

Angela kept vigil over the life within her. Rose kept vigil over her family and send up supplications for her husband walking the beat while Bridget fought wakefulness, which often became a vigil. Tiger’s vigil was held in the shellacked wooden bars at a number of drinking establishments hoping for figure out where he was going in life. Harry’s vigil took place at the apartment window and Stanley’s ended up without incident on afternoon when the Yellow Queen was not doing so well. Each one concerned themselves over something that had to do with another person.

Tiger and his friend George fulfilled their lifelong dreams and created a business that would flourish in the community and with the help of family members. To learn what they created and smell the delicious aromas on opening day you have to go there yourself and taste the food.

The circle of life has no beginning and no end but obstacles and road blocks that tear apart the chain and so does this one as author Catherin Gigante Brown brings this heartfelt story to a close with a surprise ending that lets us know that some endings are beginnings and some will hear the final toll of THE BELLS OF BROOKLYN one more time!

Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine

About Just Reviews by:gabina49:

author educator book reviewer for authors reading and writing staff developer Book reviewer for manic readers, ijustfinished.com book pleasures and authors upon request blog tours on my blog and interviews with authors I am the author of five published books. I wrote three children's books in my Bertha Series and Two on Alzheimer's. Radio show talk host on Red River Radio/Blog Talk Radio Book Discussion with Fran Lewis the third Wed. of every month at one eastern. I interview 2 authors each month feature their latest releases. I review books for authors upon request and my latest book Sharp As A Tack or Scrambled Eggs Which Describes Your Brain? Is an E book, Kindle and on Xlibris.com Some of the proceeds from this last book will go to fund research in the area of Brain Traumatic Injury in memory of my sister Marcia who died in July.

Discussion

One thought on “The Bells of Brooklyn

  1. Thank you so much for the insightful review. I’m so glad “The Bells…” touched you.

    Posted by bklyncatwoman | February 18, 2018, 10:05 pm

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