2016 New England Book Festival Award, General Fiction
This book does for 1920s Boston what E.L. Doctorow did for New York in Ragtime: it grabs a city out of history, mixes in some fiction and makes it vivid. Be it the high style of Boston’s Parker House Hotel; the flagrant, fragrant set who dance attendance on the poet Amy Lowell; the scientists and shipbuilders and politicians and utter rogues who raise the city from the dirt; it all mmers into reality as an outsider leads us into its quaking heart. Raffi, a young Italian, is our guide. He left more than his country behind in Rome. Snipped by a bishop as the last castrato, he is bundled off to America when the Church takes shame. Forbidden to use his voice, other skills steal him into the society of 1920s Boston. Raffi enters the hardest quest of all–the search for a genuine love song.