(3.5) A “wee” bit of a rags to riches family saga
So Many Partings is the story of Tom Dalton, illegitimate child of the younger son of the manor Drumgillan and Irish peasant Mary Dalton. When Tom comes to New York as a young man fresh out of college and fresh off the boat, he finds friends and obtains work among the other Irishmen at the docks. Eventually Tom is mentored by ruthless businessman Diamond Jim Mulvaney and as he proves his mettle he quickly moves up in the ranks and hopes to one day earn enough to be able to court Diamond Jim’s daughter Dierdra (much to DJ’s consternation).
The rest of the book details early 1900’s New York as Tom’s work in Diamond Jim’s empire involves him with the Tammany gang, dirty politics, and a labor strike at the docks between the Irish and the Italians that leads to tragic consequences for Tom and his new family, and finally culminates in the story of Tom’s beloved granddaughter Megan and the treacherous betrayals by Tom’s two sons.
While I enjoyed this book, at the same time I found something missing. It’s not quite BIG enough in scope to be an “epic novel”, nor is there enough romance to keep me on the edge of the seat waiting for two lovers to finally get together. Additionally, most of the characters were a bit clichéd and unoriginal – the madam with the heart of gold, the big Irish dockworker with the soft side no one knows, the ruthless business man who lets no one in his way (well almost), a few Mafioso types – that as much as I enjoyed the book I felt like I just left the table after a full meal and I’m still needing something more. It’s a good book, not a great one, although it did quite well for this housebound reader on a snowy winter afternoon. Not too light and not too heavy, and definitely no where near as good as the author’s fabulous Paint the Wind. 3.5/5 stars.