City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York

City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York

Beverly Swerling / Jan 18, 2020

City of God A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York City of God the latest installment in Beverly Swerling s gripping saga of old New York takes readers to Manhattan s clamorous streets as the nation struggles to find a compromise between slave and f

  • Title: City of God: A Novel of Passion and Wonder in Old New York
  • Author: Beverly Swerling
  • ISBN: 9781416549215
  • Page: 221
  • Format: Hardcover
  • City of God, the latest installment in Beverly Swerling s gripping saga of old New York, takes readers to Manhattan s clamorous streets as the nation struggles to find a compromise between slave and free, but hears the drums of war This is New York when one synagogue is no longer adequate for thousands of Jewish immigrants, when New Evangelicals rouse complacent Protest City of God, the latest installment in Beverly Swerling s gripping saga of old New York, takes readers to Manhattan s clamorous streets as the nation struggles to find a compromise between slave and free, but hears the drums of war This is New York when one synagogue is no longer adequate for thousands of Jewish immigrants, when New Evangelicals rouse complacent Protestants with the promise of born again salvation, and when it first sees Catholic nuns and calls them whores of Satan It is New York when ships bring the fabulous wealth of nations to its wharves and auction houses, while a short distance away rival gangs fight to the death with broken bottles and teeth filed to points.Into this churning cauldron comes young Dr Nicholas Turner Nick knows that the discoveries of antisepsis and anesthesia promise medical miracles beyond the dreams of ages He learns that to make such progress reality he must battle the city s corrupt politics and survive the snake pit that is Bellevue Hospital, all while resisting his love for the beautiful Carolina Devrey, his cousin s wife Sam Devrey, head of the shipping company that bears his name and a visionary who believes the future will be ushered in by mighty clipper ships spreading acres of sail, battles demons of his own The life he lives with Carolina in the elegant brownstone on newly fashionable Fifth Avenue is a charade meant to disguise his heart s true home, the secret downtown apartment of the exquisite Mei hua, his Chinese child bride The worlds of all four are imperiled when Sam must rely on Nick s skills to save the woman he loves, and only Nick s honor guards Sam s secret On a night when promises of hellfire seem to become reality and the city nearly burns to the ground, Carolina and Mei hua confront the truth of their duplicitous marriages Rage and revenge join love and passion as driving forces in a story played out against the background of the glittering New York that rises from the ashes, where Delmonico s and the Astor House host bejeweled women and top hatted men, both with the din of commerce in their ears and the glint of gold in their eyes.As always, Swerling has conjured a dazzling cast of characters to people her city Among those seeking born again salvation are Addie Bellingham, befriended by the widow Manon Turner but willing to betray her, and Lilac Langton, who confesses her sins but avoids mentioning that she s a skilled abortionist in a city that has recently made abortion a crime Ben Klein, a brilliant young physician, must balance devotion to his mentor and dedication to research with duty to the Jewish community Wilbur Randolf, Carolina s father, indulges her in everything but fails her when she needs him most Jenny Worthington, Wilbur s longtime mistress, is driven by avarice to make common cause with Fearless Flannagan, a member of a New York police force as corrupt as the city it serves Ah Chee, Mei hua s devoted servant, struggles through Manhattan s streets on bound feet and burns incense to the kitchen god in this place of foreign devils They are all here, heroines and saints, villains and victims, and a vanished New York made to live again in an intricate tale of old debts and new rivalries.

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      221 Beverly Swerling
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      Posted by:Beverly Swerling
      Published :2019-09-12T22:19:11+00:00

    About "Beverly Swerling"

      • Beverly Swerling

        I m told that a number of critics who have said kind things about my books, have been less kind about the very brief bio on my book jackets First, don t blame Simon Schuster it s my fault Publishers use the data supplied by the author for this kind of thing, and I didn t supply much I guess because it seems that almost everything needs a long explanation Which is probably me being egotistical What do you care, right You buy my books to be entertained and very grateful I am , you don t give two hoots about me But there are those picky critics Here then is a somewhat less abbreviated version.I grew up in the Boston suburb of Revere, and while I won t tell you when, I will say that it was very different from what it is today The beach was, as it still is, one of the natural wonders of the state of Massachusetts, but the front was NOT lined with condo high rises It was a boardwalk with stands selling fried clams Massachusetts has the world s best fried clams made from the Ipswich soft shells, they remain what I d choose for my last meal on this earth and French fries and soft ice cream that we called frozen custard Plus there were all kinds of gambling games of the sort found at any fairground pitch til you win, folks and a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster and a tunnel of love Another feature of Revere back then was that it was almost entirely either Jewish or Italian my own family is a mixture of both and because the town had a dog track Wonderland and a horse track Suffolk Downs there was a lot of what is politely called off track betting Which wasn t legal then, and for all I know still is not Nonetheless, any number of family members rented rooms to bookies the chief requirement being that these gentlemen of the turf had to be able to see one or the other of the tote boards with binoculars, a world without cell phones, remember and know how much they were liable to pay out, which in turn affected what odds they could offer on the next race.I went from that upstanding childhood to a small Catholic girls college in the Midwest, then a job in New York as a file clerk to support my writing all non fiction at first until I was able to earn my way as a free lance journalist For a time after that I lived in Europe.Where I got married for a brief and unpleasant period, then came home and wrote non fiction And got married again.And went back to Europe.And started writing fiction, and hallelujah selling it.And came back to New York with my by now long time husband, and began writing City of Dreams Which just about catches you up Except for the bits I ve left out.And, oh yes, one other important part of my life and my work On that so brief bio on the SS book jacket it mentions that I m a consultant Many people have asked me what kind.Happens that my husband who has his own website at agentresearch runs the world s number one consultancy for authors looking for new or sometimes a first agents It s called Agent Research and Evaluation, Inc and I do some work for some of his clients I also occasionally mentor new writers and some who are not so new What they all have in common is a passion for what they re writing, so working with them gives me great joy, and most have found it helpful Admittedly not all I set the bar high Some of what I have to share about the hows and the whys of this wonderful but very tough business of writing can be found at The Business of Writing page At other parts of the site you ll find about my books, including excerpts from some not yet published work, such as City of Glory, which continues the story of the Turners and the Devreys of City of Dreams City of Glory will be out in January We ve also put up an excerpt from the next book in that series, still little than a gleam in my eye.


    1. The third book in a New York series, I was gladCity of Godwas better than the previous one. Continuing the story of the Turner and Devrey families, this one stuck more to the families and the theme of medicine that began with the first book. Even with the addition of outside characters and the social history issues of abolition, immigration, and religion, the book was a quick, fun read. And Swerling leaves the door open for more tales. The only thing that bothered me was the pidgin English used [...]

    2. First "The Godfather Part III" and now this! Well, at least there weren't any surreal George Hamilton cameosor were there??? He might as well have been playing one of the miscellaneous characters who wander into the plot for apparently no other reason than to attempt to nudge the narrative forward. I'm sure it must be hard to maintain the same level of intensity and creativity throughout a trilogy, but there's no excuse to coast to the finish line. Nonetheless, since the descriptions of old New [...]

    3. So far, the best one of her 5 book series. Funny, enthralling, and vivid, without pages and pages of boring politics and history minutia like the first two. The chinese women's language was often funny and the characters held my attention right to the very end. I can only hope that the next two are written as well.

    4. Beverly Swerling did a very good job of making history interesting in this book. The plot was complicated enough to keep me reading, which is usually hard, and kept me from guessing exactly what would happen next; I did occasionally get the feeling of "oh-no-I-know-what-this-character-is-going-to-do-and-I-wish-I-could-jump-into-the-book-and-stop-what's-coming." That, in my opinion, is not an entirely bad thing. The characters were likable and despicable as needed and were fairly easy to acknowle [...]

    5. 4 1/2 Stars -- Informative And Hard-To-Put Down! Beverly Swerling's City Of God is the fourth installment of her five fictional treatments of early American history. City Of Glory is another sweeping epic of (primarily) two competitive families that takes place in New York City from the 1830s up to shortly before the start of the Civil War; and addresses issues of the times such as poor immigrants living in unsanitary neighborhoods, progress in health and medicine, religious conflict, entreprene [...]

    6. In’t kort:Vervolg op City of Dreams en City of Gold (cfr elders op deze blog), waarbij opnieuw enkele telgen van de families Devrey en Turner worden gevolgd. Nicholas Turner is een gewaardeerd dokter, die gefascineerd is door de mogelijkheden die narcose en anesthesie zouden bieden. Sam Devrey heeft zich ingewerkt in de scheepvaart en koopvaardij. Op één van zijn reizen naar China heeft hij zijn jonge vrou Mei-hua mee terug naar New York gebracht. Hij huwt echter ook nog Carolina, al is dat [...]

    7. I really enjoyed this book! Based in New York, gives the reader an understanding of what the "New World" was like and how religion was looked upon. This book doesn't cram the history or religion to you but tells a story and gently gets you into the timeframe and circumstances. I was even so intrigued by a few things>like the "golden lilies",I did an internet search to learn more about them. Intoduced me to new things and made me think of a few in terms of the way things used to be and are now [...]

    8. If you love historical fiction, run to the library to pick up this fast-paced, riveting story of two families set in the early 19th century NYC. The story follows the amazing rise of the city with underlying themes of the shipping business including the opium trade with China, the immigrant tensions, the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, the medical field at the time, and the very harsh lives of the poor and orphaned. The main character has a Chinese wife (with bound feet) that he kee [...]

    9. Sometimes there's nothing for it but a great, sweeping, "Swerling" saga. You get involved in the generations of families, their history as well as the history of their cities, countries, causes, etc. Beverly Swerling is my go-to author for her "City Of" books; the city being my own, New York. Mostly, she follows two intertwing (and often quarrelsome) families, but she rarely fails to make you care about them. I confess to not reading this series in order--but I would recommend it. (City of Dream [...]

    10. Another chapter in the Devrey and Turner families. I was a little disappointed in this one. I expected the events leading up to the Civil War to be more a plot device. New York in the 1860s is packed full of things. However, we spend very little time in that period. Instead, you suffer through another cheating husband/mistress plot that could be during any time period. Carolina as a character was no Manon, so I became bored of her shenanigans. And of course, we get more lectures from the newest [...]

    11. This is the third book in the series, and, after having been disappointed by the second book, I was glad that this one got back to what made me love the first book so much. There were moments where I felt as though the plot was moving along way too fast, but the family relations and medical history were fascinating and more than made up for it. I found myself learning a lot about neighborhoods in current NYC and how they came to be, and about the political machines and how they began. In fact, I [...]

    12. This book was over all quite pleasing. The historical view of old New York was pretty fascinating. I liked the development of the characters, but the only thing wrong is that they were a little flat. If you were a protagonist, you were really good: an angelical widow who becomes a nun, who loves taking care of the poor, sick and elderly. If you were the antagonist you were really bad: an importer of opium who beats his wife, neglects his child, has an open affair, and (spoiler alert!) eventually [...]

    13. It's 1834 and the Devrey's and the Turners are still at odds. Young Dr. Nicholas Turner comes to New York and meets his cousin Samuel Turner and his beautiful wife Carolina. Samuel is keeping secrets that he doesn't want the rest of NY to know; but eventually has to call upon his cousin Dr. Turner for help. All during the building of NY we find the struggles of the Jewish, Irish and Italians in a City that doesn't want them there. But lavishes in all that they bring with them.In the background t [...]

    14. This is the third in the Old New York series and so far the best. This story continues the rivalry between the Turner and Devrey families. It is a time of great growth in the city, a horrible fire burning down most of it (while displacing many poor families,) the rebuilding of it with fine mansions, an expanding Wall Street, and the growth in the shipping and opium industries. The book is a great history lesson of New York during a time of clashes between Jewish, Italian and Irish cultures. It a [...]

    15. The next piece of Swerling's saga of old New York. This work takes place in the mid-1800's and it deals more with personal relationships than with history; but it was very compelling, and captured the feel of the time in New York. The story of the Turners and the Deverys continues, with the introduction of Samuel Devery's Chinese "wife", his legal wife, and their children and problems, including the opium trade. Dr. Turner is focusing on the affects of germs and the lack of the acceptability of [...]

    16. The plot line was quite novel, which is the only reason I was able to complete the book. The author seemed to focus so much on name dropping events and famous people of the time that she failed to focus on her character development. I never once could relate to her characters and the seemed way too fantastical for the novel. It could have been so much better! Additionally, her use of the flashback was a complete failure. The literary device is supposed to be smoothly interwoven so that the reade [...]

    17. A aof two cultures melding in New York. The child bride brought from China wedded to a powerful shipping businessman in a chinese ceremony and kept in secret in the Chinese section of lower New York. At the same time, he marries another who he ignores but who is a member of society and is convenient for his rise to power. Interesting detail about the traditions of old China and her customs. A three generational saga of their parallel lives. A wonderful read about the famous people who establishe [...]

    18. At first I thought I was drawn to this series for the history of NYC. After finishing the 3rd book now I realize I am drawn to it for the characters (of which the city is one) and Swerlings writing. I'm capitvated by the Turners and the Devrys and all the family history they bring. If you love a great generational saga and have any interest in the history of this great city (home to me) then you will love this series. Who knew (not me) the Chinatown was once "China Village"?!I have the next book [...]

    19. I love big historical novels with family trees so I can keep track of the characters. I liked this one best of the 3 I have read in this series. But I do like to have some explanation of why a character behaves cruelly to others. This author gives one no clues. For this novel one would have to conclude that being raised as a male in Chinese culture (Sam and Kurt) would lead one to be a cruel, avaricious bully. I don't buy that. So why is one person cruel and another kind? You won't be able to fi [...]

    20. Read as part of a book club. Outstanding historical fiction. Beverly Swerling is a wonderful author. Her work is always well researched and her characters and plotlines are fully developed. It is like reading living history. This is the third book in the series: City of Dreams, City of Glory and City of God. Contact with the author through the book club indicated that she is working on the fourth book in the series. More good reading to come.

    21. This is the third in a trilogy, however it is not necessary to read the prior two books to get into this one. The setting is Manhattan at the time of the civil war, although, not much attention is given to it. The plot deals more with the stories of two families and the ending was a little flat, I think the author is leaving the door open for another in the series. I'm not sure I will read the other two books. Jury is still out.

    22. Mmmm I give this book the stars for the historical context. I love this period in American history, and found the historical portions of this book fascinating. The characters were flat- I didn't connect with them or care about them- and the plot was slow, which is painful for a book this size. Could be my current stage of life; constantly chasing after a toddler all day, I'm not too interested in a slow, panoramic story in my "me" time. I need something to grab me, and this, sadly, did not.

    23. I have enjoyed all these books set in the history of New York. In particular I like the theme that follows a family of doctors. But I am weary of the author's need to inject her current thoughts on abortion into a historical story. This time it is awkwardly shoehorned in and takes away from an otherwise great flow. Same with the pidgin-rendered thoughts of the Chinese people. Does anyone actually think, "Oh great lord white father bring much good for tai tai, Aiii!"

    24. I liked more of the Turners and Devreys in this third book but sometimes the plot seemed rushed and as if the author had forgotten minor details of the previous books. The ending was very rushed and did not give me the sense of finality that I was looking for. However, as usual, the feel of New York's changing atmosphere/structure/cultures was facinating as usual.

    25. Interesting story! Learning a lot! Many different characters and some times confusing--a lot going on at the same time, but seems to come together every now and again. Like the character build--very interesting. Some characters I love and dislike at the same time. Lots of emotions flying around in the story. Again, very interesting so far! Looking forward to how it ends.

    26. Beverly Swirling writes a complex, engrossing tale, rich in detail,with memorable characters. Her research of historical New York City is outstanding. The reader has no problem following the generations in this series. I was intrigued by plot, setting and characters. City of God hooks the reader, leaves them hoping for more.Clearly a five star!

    27. This was a great historical fiction book. Took me a while to get into the book, but once I understood this was the third in a series and the story picked up from another book I really enjoyed the characters. Hurt my heart when she found out about her husband when the fire swept the city. But so glad she and Nick "found" each other.

    28. Excellent novel which provides a very good cross-sectional perspective of life and society in Manhattan during the 1834-1863 time period. during this period what is now mid-town was just beginning to evolve from a very rural landscape as the population moves north on the island of Manhattan and immigrants stream into the city from across the globe.

    29. I really liked this book, just like the two that came before it. My only complaint, which isn't really even about this book, is that I wish the author had spent so much time on one generation in the first book as she did in that one. There just aren't enough books about early New York and New Amsterdam, and I wish there had been more than just a few pages set in the seventeenth century.

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