Reviews

Praise for Susan Jane Gilman’s The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street:

Finalist for the 2014 National Jewish Book Award, Outstanding Debut Fiction

An IndieNext Pick

A LibraryReads Selection

A USA Today “Hottest Titles This Season” selection

An LA Times “Summer Books Preview 2014” title

An AARP “Beach-Bag Books for Grownups” selection

A Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book

A Historical Novels Review “Editors’ Choice” title

A “Best Book of June” selection, Christian Science Monitor

A “June Best Books of 2014” pick, Bustle

A Bookbrowse.com “Best Books Publishing in June” selection

“We all scream [for] Susan Jane Gilman’s novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street.”—TIME

Big-hearted . . . . [A] smart, darkly comic story, which is perfect for a summer weekend read. . . .Gilman understands the great sweep of the 20th century, from life in a tenement on Orchard Street, to Italian Communists, Joe McCarthy, McDonald’s franchises, suburbanization and, of course, the history of ice cream in America. She blends it in a delicious swirl, and adds a topical spin.”— Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune (“Editor’s Choice”)

“A tasty summertime treat. . . . A rich literary feast of 31 flavors (and twice that many colors, scents and sounds), Ice Cream Queen is a familiar schmatta-to-silk brocade story of immigrant New York.… Ice Cream Queen is polished yet pointed, deceptively cheery but shaded in the sinister — an upside-down, funhouse treat. In short, the kiddie-cup conclusion? You’ll lick it up.”—Olivia Barker, USA Today

“A sweeping novel with a sense of humor . . . Through sheer force of will [Lillian] turns herself into a businesswoman to be reckoned with – an alcoholic, kleptomaniacal one with a tendency to bulldoze over her loved ones, to be sure – but an unforgettable one. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street is as refreshing a summertime treat as its namesake – with just enough salt to keep things from getting too cloying.”—Yvonne Zipp, Christian Science Monitor

“Suspenseful and bittersweet. . . Gilman, who has a gift for realistic dialogue, has composed an incredibly engrossing read.”—Real Simple

“An outstanding fiction debut. . . . Gilman’s numerous strengths are showcased, such as character-driven narrative, a ready sense of wit, and a rich historical canvas.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An ambitious and lavish immigrant rags-to-riches-to-rags first novel rife with humor and moxie.”—Booklist

“Like a glittering mound of ice cream on a sizzling mid-June afternoon, Susan Jane Gilman’s fiction debut will be a sweet delight to any summer reading list. In The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street, Gilman wields a playful pen to craft a charming American odyssey staring feisty, irreverent protagonist Malka Treynovsky.…A lush cultural history.”—Bustle (June 2014 Best Books list)

“Entertaining . . . . A rich confection . . . . Although this is Gilman’s fiction debut, she knows how to tell a sweeping story…Lillian Dunkle is sometimes sympathetic, sometimes reprehensible, but always fascinating. And that, darlings, is all that matters in telling a good story.”—Jenny Shank, Dallas Morning News

“Fascinating . . . A riveting read . . . Anyone who enjoys reading about strong female characters or who has an interest in 20th century American history will be drawn in by Lillian’s story.”— The Times-Leader

“It’s impossible not to be intrigued, and eventually completely seduced, by the charms of The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. This is Susan Jane Gilman’s multi decades sprawling novel about Malka Treynovsky, a Russian Jewish immigrant who would go on to become known as Lillian Dunkle, the dairy royal of the book’s title. With a picaresque tone and first person narration reminiscent of Charles Dickens, Gilman’s novel is a delightful chronicle of New York history as seen through the eyes of the kind of person who built it and turned it into what it eventually became. . . . The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street is sweet where it could’ve been corny, epic where it could’ve been overlong and enchanting where it could’ve been contrived.”—Popmatters.com

  “Magnificent . . . Distinctive, delicious prose…[A] fascinating ride through history…Gilman is a marvel at researching, and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street luxuriates in long chapters that gift its readers with pure delight. The fun of history, when writing about it in the context of fiction, is the creativity afforded the author and, clearly, Gilman has plenty of it. So don’t wait! Dig in and ask for a big, heaping scoop of The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. And make sure you have real ice cream handy. You’re going to want it. Gilman makes sure of that.”—Bookbrowse.com

 “This page-turner of a book is a tart alternative to the usual sweet summer refreshment. . . . The author’s research is meticulous. Gilman’s Dickensian description of the Lower East Side of the early-20th century conjures up the intensity of such classics as “The Rise of David Levinsky” or “Call it Sleep.” . . . The historical references are seamlessly woven into the story and add an extra topping to an already delightful tale….Gilman’s talent is taking sentimental stock characters and turning them inside out.”—The Jewish Week

 “An epic novel about a tough, determined immigrant girl who suffers more than her fair share of licks—but who grows to become the greatest ice cream maker in America.”—The Missourian

“A compelling, haunting story of an immigrant. . . . So well written, so rich in detail and such an honest story. . . . Like an ice cream sundae in that it begs to be enjoyed slowly and appreciated for each new taste and texture.”—Deseret News

“The writing is forceful, the travel is fun, and the characters are memorable, making this novel by award-winning writer Susan Jane Gilman pretty much the perfect summer read.”—The Christian Science Monitor (a “Best Book of June” selection)

 “A very enjoyable and insightful book. . . . The plot is a page-turner. . . . Anyone that wants a captivating story with a lot of humor, sensitivity, and Jewish wit should read The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street.”—WorkingMother.com

 “With its vivid depictions of old New York City tenement life and its tale of the American ice cream business set against the backdrop of the major events of the 20th century, this rags-to-riches saga will appeal greatly to readers of American historical novels.”—Library Journal

“There seems to be two kinds of ice cream connoisseurs: One scarfs it down, reveling quickly in the cold, intense bursts of their favorite flavor. The second savors it, lick by lick, stretching out each second as long as they can, or as long as summer weather will allow. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street accommodates both kinds, me being the latter, not wanting to let go of this sweeping, delicious, feisty, cantankerous ice-cream-centered journey through the 20th century.” Rory Aronsky, for BookBrowse

“Take an unforgettable female protagonist, the classic immigrant story of the 20th century and a whole lot of ice cream, and you have the perfect summer novel. . . . Lillian’s rise to fame as America’s Ice Cream Queen is countered with her behind-the-scenes hard-driving personality and scathing wit. . . . This novel is a fresh and thoughtful perspective of the American immigrant story. . . . The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street is an entertaining novel with interesting historical perspective, a funny but hard-edged protagonist and lots of ice cream. Lillian is part Tom Carvel, part Bob McAllister and part Leona Helmsley, and all attitude. This is a very entertaining story and a character you will not soon forget. I recommend reading it by the lake with a maple creemee in hand!”—Claire Benedict, Montpelier Bridge (VT)

 “Easy to read, fast-paced, at times sad and at others uplifting, this is a highly enjoyable novel.”—Romance Times

““Phenomenally researched and filled with period detail…[t]his novel is truly as much of a summer treat as its subject matter.” —The Historical Novels Review

“The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, raised by Italians on New York’s Lower East Side, Lillian Dunkle is the archetypical American heroine, and THE ICE CREAM QUEEN OF ORCHARD STREET is the story of America itself.  Brash, brassy, and larger than life, it is a scintillating romp of a book.”—Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You

“THE ICE CREAM QUEEN OF ORCHARD STREET is a wonderful read, by turns poignant and wickedly funny. This is the immigrant story updated, with a brazenly re-imagined American anti-hero, and delicious all along the way.”—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd and Paradise Alley

“Gilman mixes two of the world’s best creations, ice cream and New York City, with brains, irreverence, panoramic historical research, and a huge heart. Set aside a chunk of time when you scoop this wonderful novel up, because you won’t be able to put it back down.”—Anne Korkeakivi, author of An Unexpected Guest

“Picture a scrappy young immigrant who amasses fame and fortune through bone-grinding labor, canny speculation, and the gift of gab, only to wind up a paranoid alcoholic mired in the trappings of luxury, in trouble with the Feds for tax fraud.  You pictured a man, right?  Gotcha!  This is the genius of THE ICE CREAM QUEEN OF ORCHARD STREET: in a novel that condenses the innocence, the calculation, the hope, and the delusions of twentieth-century America into one figure, Susan Jane Gilman taps a heroine to do the heavy lifting.  The scope is broad, the writing is sumptuous, and Lillian Dunkle née Malka Treynovsky leaves Kane and Gatsby in the dust: she’s a full-steam-ahead geyser tapped into the American life force itself.”—Ellis Avery, author of The Teahouse Fire

“This shrewd and lively novel tells us about those chasms between public success and private truths that make up so much of American life. The energetic narrator, the ice cream queen, is a confidence-woman, and her darkly comic story about life in the big city and in the media spotlight will give readers chills.”—Charles Baxter, author of The Soul Thief

“A Jewish Cinderella story, with a soap-opera twist” – HaAretz

“Highly recommended to readers of the literary and historical genres!” – Historical Novel Society

“Anyone who wants a captivating story with a lot of humor, sensitivity, and Jewish wit” – Jewish Book Council