BREAD AND ROSES by Richard Gambino

BREAD AND ROSES

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

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