01-28-2009 02:31 PM
I've been to Manhattan quite a few times and am familiar with many of the neighborhoods. It should also be familiar to many readers who watch TV, go to movies and read books as it's the setting for many stories. I didn't feel as if there was much color provided for the setting - besides a few mentions of Bendel's...it could have been any large city....almost.
Brooklyn on the other hand is a place I have not yet visited and I don't feel as if I know anymore about it than I did before. Besides telling me that the rents are going up and their are more families and baby carriages on the streets -- and that's not unique to Brooklyn -- I didn't really see it - at all. I wasn't there. What is unique to Brooklyn? I am sure that there is something.
01-30-2009 09:24 AM
Although set at the turn of the millennium, the book takes place against a backdrop of very classic New York. The Upper East Side, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn are some of the neighborhoods that figure largely in the story, and give it an atmosphere of old school and cutting edge New York City combined. The very presence of the main characters in some of the neighborhoods they inhabit signals a turning point of gentrification.
Share your impressions about the setting of the novel, and feel free to discuss any personal experience with these locales.
I lived on the Upper West Side, Staten Island, and Park Slope during the 20 years that I lived in the city. I still get the NY Times delivered every day to South Jersey. The descriptions that Joanna wrote were spot on. For as much as the City changes, it stays the same the people who are the heart of the city may change names but the characteristics stay the same. Gentrification has destroyed many parts of the city, but at the same time it has allowed a new generation of New Yorkers to inhabit parts of the City that they never would have been able to without it , especially Williamsburg.
To me, the descdriptions of the City and Beth were the best parts of the story.
01-30-2009 08:45 PM
New York is one of my favorite cities and I love to read novels that are written around it. It is one of the few cities that has such iconic imagery Though I live in Texas, I have been fortunate to visit the City two years ago at Christmas. It feels like I am transformed back there in some aspects of the novel and this is something I enjoy. It makes the story more vivid then if it was a location that I was not familiar with.
03-24-2009 01:01 AM
I think this is an excellent point -
"So I think in some ways this book reinforced in my mind something that I had observed myself in other aspects - that America might be, in the long-run, a melting pot, and some parts of the US are more of a "melting pot" than others, but New York City is, by and large, a city of enclaves."
The notion of NYC as a city of enclaves is very visible to me having come as a bit of an outsider as a foreign lawyer in my mid-30s that opted to live in the Upper East Side because it seemed very safe, allowed me to walk to work (and avoid the morning subway rush) and more manageable than other neighborhoods in the City. I moved to Yorkville to save money and found a different side of the UES. Getting to know various young college graduates working as paralegals, it was apparent that they'd been priced out of Manhattan but also chose more "interesting neighborhoods" in Brooklyn and Queens.
Only in the last year or so, having become more comfortable in the City and having more time on my hands, my husband and I would explore other areas during condo open houses. We saw parts of the Upper East Side, Upper West Side, the Lower East Side, Clinton, Yorkville, Murray Hill, Harlem, Washington Heights, Jackson Heights in Queens, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Fort Greene, Park Slope and "South Slope" in Brooklyn. Visiting seven or so condos in a neighborhood and spending weekends checking out the parks, restaurants, libraries, people watching, and reading all sorts of blogs you see many different pockets - a few blocks or streets make up a wholly different neighborhood. Though I guess you would notice as much by walking or taking the M15 or another similar bus line.