Book Review: The Given Day by Dennis Lehane


Author: Dennis Lehane
Title: The Given Day
Publication Info: HarperAudio (2008)
ISBN: 0061661511

Summary/Review:

This sprawling historical novel is in many ways seemingly targeted towards the demographic of me.  It is set in Boston circa 1918-1920 among the working class and immigrant communities with the labor movement central to the narrative.  Events in the novel include the 1918 World Series, the great influenza, the Salutation Street Bombing, the Red Scare, the Great Molasses Flood, and the Boston Police Strike.   Historical details like that appeal to me but the story and interesting characters also make it worthwhile.  The novel focuses on two main characters: Danny Coughlin, a police officer who finds himself drawn into the labor movement and Luther Laurence, a black man on the run from a criminal gang in Tulsa.  Dozens of characters both fictional and historical circulate around the parallel stories of these two men including recurring appearances by Babe Ruth.  There are many flaws in this novel including a penchant for melodrama,  two-dimensional characters (especially the women), and ahistorical progressive behavior in the friendship that arises between Danny and Luther.  Still, it’s an enjoyable read and a treat for anyone interested in a fictional take on the social history of Boston.

Recommended books: Empire Rising: A Novel by Thomas Kelly and Paradise Alley by Kevin Baker.
Rating: ***

Your comments are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.