The author might not be Jewish, but City of Slaughter (Daniel and Daniel Publishers, Inc.) by Cynthia Drew is beautifully written from a Jewish perspective, with meticulous research that provides a powerful picture of the plight of women at the beginning of the 20th Century, and the obstacles they were forced to overcome. Already on Amazon’s list of Best Selling Jewish American Literature and Fiction, City of Slaughter is an exceptional work of historical fiction that is both exciting and inspiring and takes readers back in time to see the world through the eyes of another culture.
When fourteen-year-old Carsie Akselrod’s parents are murdered by Cossacks during a raid on the shtetl, Carsie flees with her younger sister, Lilia, touching off a turbulent journey that ends eight months later on New York’s Lower East Side. Plunged into the immigrant chaos of the most crowded square mile on earth, the two girls take sweatshop jobs – Carsie as a milliner’s apprentice and Lilia at the ill-fated Triangle Waist Company. It never occurs to Carsie that in her haste to live the life she strives for in America she hasn’t stopped to lament her parents’ deaths.
Life in the tenements shocks Carsie and is definitely not what she envisioned in her new life. When her first love, a gangster named Arnold Rothstein, leaves her for a showgirl she smothers her grief and anger once more. But when her sister is killed in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, (until 9/11 the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City), Carsie is powerless to mourn in any way and is haunted by all she has lost in her struggle to be American. Alone and on the edge of madness, she tries to fight back against everything that has wronged her.
Set against Tammany Hall politics, gangland crime, and the rise of the American garment trade, City of Slaughter runs the gamut of human emotion in a tale of a woman torn by love, family, faith and a drive for fulfillment to claim her place in New York’s fashionable high society.
This profound historical tale, told through the lives of rich and engaging characters, propels readers into a time where faith, hope and inner strength were pivotal to a woman’s survival. The rave reviews on this extraordinary story confirm how the unexpected turns of events that take place in the life of its lead character make for one exhilarating read, not easy to put down.
Cynthia Drew’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and she teaches Creative Writing at UNC/Asheville’s Reuter Center. She worked for several years in New York’s garment district, where she became aware of the sweatshops that even today are peopled by immigrants. For more information on Cynthia Drew and her heartfelt debut novel, please visit her website at: www.cynthiadrew.com .