The Oystercatcher of Southwark

(3 customer reviews)

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Releases July 2024

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Description

By Erica Colahan

Philadelphia, 1897—On the shores of the Delaware River, Italian Catholic Mary Paragano dreams of a happily ever after. However, when she defies her family and runs away to marry Jakob, a Jewish boy, her fairy tale takes an unexpected turn. Disowned by her father, abandoned by Jakob, and pursued by a jealous gangster, Mary’s life spirals into tragedy, culminating in accusations of attempting to harm her own children and a harrowing end in an asylum.

Philadelphia, present-day—Bella, Mary’s great-great-granddaughter, grapples with the aftermath of her recent divorce. Amidst her pain, a mysterious stranger named Sophie enters her life, claiming to be related to Jakob, the man who left Mary to her devastating fate over a century ago. Together, Bella and Sophie unravel the layers of Mary’s haunting past, question the stories they’ve been told, and uncover the impact of these historical secrets on their modern-day lives. Based on the remarkable true story of the author’s great-great-grandmother, The Oystercatcher of Southwark takes readers on a poignant journey through the immigrant neighborhoods of South Philadelphia. This deftly-woven novel explores the profound love of a mother for her children and the redemptive hope that transcends time.

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3 reviews for The Oystercatcher of Southwark

  1. Barb Szyszkiewicz (verified owner)

    This split-time novel tells the story of Mary, a young first-generation Italian-American woman living in South Philly and working at a sweatshop while she helps her father manage the grocery store for which he’s beholden to mob boss Rocco. Mary has captured the hearts of three men: the brutish Rocco, who insists Mary’s father “owes him” and must let him marry her; Cenzo the kindly fishmonger; and Jakob, a young Jewish man who becomes embroiled in shady business deals after Mary becomes pregnant and they elope and set up housekeeping in Newark, NJ. The present-day story line follows Bella, who’s brokenhearted after a recent divorce and shocked to learn that some of her ancestors were Jewish: this story had never been told to the younger generations. Together, Bella and a newfound older cousin piece together the story of Mary’s eventual return to Philadelphia with her children.
    It’s lovely to read historical novels when the scene is set so well. As I read, I felt like I could very well have been walking those streets of South Philly where this novel takes place. Erica Colahan has taken the true story of her own great-great-grandmother and brought the people as well as the place to life. The novel explores the life of a young mother and tells how she, driven to desperation, seeks to protect her children from all harm.
    I can’t wait to read this novel a second time!

  2. Teresa Whiting

    I was hooked on this novel from the moment I picked it up until I read the last word! I loved the variety of characters and the unpredictable storyline. What captured me most is that this novel was based on the author’s ancestors, and many of the facts were true. As a second-generation American descended from Italian immigrants, I feel a kinship with Erica Colahan and the family she portrays. It’s hard to believe this is her first novel, and I hope it’s the first of many!!

  3. Elizabeth (verified owner)

    “The Oystercatcher of Southwark” is primed to be the book of the summer. Debut author Erica Colahan weaves a beautiful story of family, love, sacrifice, and hope. Her writing is cinematic as she guides the reader into the harrowing yet hopeful story of Mary Paragano.

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