BREAD AND ROSES by Richard Gambino


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An immigrant saga in the Howard Fast manner, but very heavy on the sex and violence--as the Trinacria family hits N.Y., California, and Massachusetts between 1890 and 1935. Hero #1 is Sicilian teenager Danilo Trinacria, who has lots of woe--a forbidden affair, poverty (hailstorm, taxes), Mama's death from cholera, Papa's grief/insanity, his family's mass murder by the caribinieri--and then must flee to America after taking bloody vengeance. So, in Little Italy Danilo gets work as a roadmender, weds 17-year-old Annetta (who has been a bobbin girl in a Lawrence textile mill for six years), then heads to San Francisco--where he becomes a crab fisherman, a labor organizer, a top maritime moneyman, and eventually a millionaire running a chain of banks. But things are not so hot at home, of course: Annetta's first childbirth is horrendous and produces bovine Carla, who will marry a wife-beater; son Gus is charming and sensuous but fails in politics and sinks into alcoholism after his wife dies in a Fatty-Arbuckle-like scandal; daughter Vittoria becomes a spit-tongued, boiling anarchist leader in the great strike against the Lawrence mill; son Paul is a desperately religious but wily youth who insinuates himself up the Catholic ladder, becomes a monsignor, and crosses wits with Mussolini in Rome. And things become faintly ludicrous when Danilo's long-lost sister Gemma resurfaces as the banshee leader of the textile strikers--and, after being killed, is avenged by Vittoria in a seduction-slaughter. Finally, however, all the threads come together in a super-contrived finale: Mussolini demands the extradition of Danilo (for his Sicilian crimes)--and it will be up to Gus (now recovered and a Senator) or influential Monsignor Paul to save their tycoon dad. Standard family-saga/US-history interplay-somewhat enhanced by Gambino's expertise in Italian-American socio-cultural background, somewhat undermined by his effortful plot contortions and his blatantly commercial detours into Henry Miller-ish sex and Marlo Puzo-ish bloodlettings.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1981
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row