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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #655

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 9:02pm

One of Entertainment Weekly's 20 Must-Read Books of the Fall and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, The World of Tomorrow * * * * by Brendan Mathews will not disappoint.

Set against the backdrop of the World's Fair, conceived to lift the spirit of city (and the country) out of the gloom of the Depression and promised a peaceful, prosperous "World of Tomorrow," is a sweeping, intricate, and ambitious debut about family, honor, love and betrayal, over the course of one whirlwind week in 1939.

Posing as a Scottish laird, escaped Dublin convict Francis Dempsey and his shell-shocked brother, Michael, are bound for New York on the RMS Britannic, having stolen a small fortune from the IRA. Francis's title and aristocratic bearing impresses his fellow passengers enough that they eagerly welcome him into their rarefied circle once they've reached Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Tom Cronin, a retired assassin living a quiet family life in a farm upstate, is pressed into service one last time - to track the Dempsey brothers down. During the week that follows, the lives of these characters collide spectacularly with big-band jazz musicians, a talented but fragile heiress, a Jewish street photographer facing a return to Nazi-occupied Prague, a vengeful mob boss, and the ghosts of their own family's revolutionary past.

"From the smoky jazz joints of Harlem to the opulent Plaza Hotel, from the garrets of vagabonds and artists in the Bowery to the backroom warrens and shadowy warehouses of mobsters in Hell's Kitchen, Brendan Mathews brings the prewar metropolis to vivid, pulsing life." (Library Journal)

"With the wit of a ’30s screwball comedy and the depth of a thoroughly researched historical novel, this one grabs the reader from the beginning to its suspenseful climax." (Publishers' Weekly)

Fans of Brooklyn by Colm Toibin; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; and Netherland by Joseph O'Neill would not want to miss this.

* * * * = 4 starred reviews