Girl in a boat in NYC. And then, um, something.
August 12, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Would love some help tracking down a novel that intrigued me, but unfortunately I have only the tiniest bit of info to go on... I know there's a girl in a boat on the river in New York City, and that it's set in the past.

I read a review of this book in either the NY Times Book Review, or possibly in the New Yorker, about 6-8 years ago (give or take). It was set around a century ago - my hazy memory involves it being 1880's-ish, but could have been early 20th century. I think the Ellis Island immigrant experience was involved in some way, but the boat was more of a rowboat or small craft on a foggy night (maybe she was running away from something?). There was also some Jewish connection, either the girl was a Jewish immigrant, or possibly it was simply a Jewish author and I assumed that connection to the plot. Any help?
posted by Mchelly to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could it be Tatiana and Alexandar by Paullina Simons?
Synopsis here:
posted by unlaced at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: No, I think it was a much smaller endeavor. If it helps anyone, I have a vague thought of the boat drifting by the Brooklyn Bridge in the moonlight, but that too could have just been evoked by the fact she was in a small boat, or even been the art accompanying the article.
posted by Mchelly at 9:47 AM on August 12, 2011

A bit of a stretch, but in Helprin's Winters Tale, a character is set adrift in a small boat as an infant after his parents are turned back at Ellis Island. The boat drifts through the fog and comes ashore in New Jersey. Timeline is about right, but the character is male.
posted by Eddie Mars at 10:14 AM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: I actually bought A Winter's Tale a few months ago, thinking it might be the one I had in mind - it really did seem to embody the review I have in my memory... I adored it, but that wasn't it either. It was definitely a female protagonist.
(sorry to threadsit)
posted by Mchelly at 10:21 AM on August 12, 2011

Eddie mars guess was my first thought. I too think that could be your book, even if some of the details are off.

It's a beautiful novel. Read it even if it isn't the one you are right now looking for!
posted by jbenben at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2011

Upon update....never mind....
posted by jbenben at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2011

Is it Amy Bloom's Away?
posted by zoomorphic at 11:07 AM on August 12, 2011

Also, there is another part in Winter's Tale where heroine (there are many in that book, as it jumps along various people's narratives) Virginia Gamely and her infant son Martin are on a boat in the harbor of the East River. It's a very memorable and surreal passage. She is not Jewish, though Mark Helprin served in the Israeli infantry and air force. I don't know if that means he's necessarily Jewish.

Away seems to fit this bill, though I don't remember a passage where Lillian is on a boat in New York, other than to arrive through Ellis Island. This is the NYTimes book review.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2011

Response by poster: After reading the NY Times piece, I'm pretty sure it wasn't Away, but I'm adding that to my list of books to check out - looks right up my alley.
posted by Mchelly at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2011

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