Fiction - Womens


Category:Fiction - Womens

Author:Sally DiPaula

  • Publisher: Nicholson Books
  • Publication Date: June 13, 2023
  • Number of Pages: 262
  • ISBN-10: 195593780X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-955937-80-1

Once Upon a Time in Baltimore by Sally DiPaula is an emotionally rich narrative set against historical events like the Spanish flu epidemic and societal challenges, a tale of loss, tribulations, love, and resilience. Annie and Vince are two characters whose lives have been altered by tragedy. Annie is an Irish-American and Vince is the son of Sicilian immigrants. Annie loses her sister and father to the Spanish flu while Vince's brother dies in a car accident. Their love is forged through struggle and they face discrimination, illness, and family conflict. They also experience the challenge of seeing their son go to war. Against the backdrop of ever-changing mores and social challenges, this couple must struggle to keep their family together. When Vince is diagnosed with terminal illness, will Annie have the strength to hold the family together?

DiPaula's is a great storyteller with the ability to effortlessly infuse the writing with realism, imbuing it with strong historical and social elements. The descriptions are terrific and the somber atmosphere brought about by the Spanish flu intersects with the sense of grief that afflicts the two key characters. The author’s exploration of grief and societal upheaval is nuanced. The relationship between Annie and Vince is skillfully developed. They are not the perfect couple and Annie has to put up with Vince’s marital infidelities and the hostilities between the two families. These characters are deeply flawed and the pathos becomes stronger as reader follow their struggles. DiPaula plots like an expert and writes each chapter with a flourish. I enjoyed following Annie's transition from high school to the workforce and Vince's struggles with expectations from his family and work pressures. Once Upon a Time in Baltimore is a wonderful story for literary and historical fiction fans. The novel's strength lies in the author’s ability to offer a dazzling portrait of what it was like for immigrants living through the social changes of the twentieth century. The author’s gift for exploring human emotion and the inner worlds of the characters shines through this engaging narrative. 

Reviewed By: Christian Fernandez

Reviewed Date: January 27, 2024

Category: Fiction - Womens