A Review from the UK
For history lovers and those particularly interested in the prohibition era and the developing criminal culture of the time, The Sugar House is a well-researched history of Detroit in the early 20th century. The settings are clearly visible and the characters well defined and contrasted, especially Marya and Cappie. The author captures all of the unique voices.
The Sugar House story is told by eight-year-old Joe, not Joseph, Jopolowksi. However, the nuns at school insisted on calling him Joseph “despite the fact that his birth certificate clearly stated his name is Joe. He even brought it to school and showed it to Sister Mary Monica to no avail. She had responded curtly, “Joe is not a given name,” and there was no further discussion
We see the development of this great city through the eyes of one particular Polish immigrant family in a new world of immigrants. In particular, we watch the streets through the life of Joe Jopolowski, boy and man. I don’t know how far the real goes, but I do know that Scheffler is digging deep into her family memoirs and those of many others of the generations that lived through the Spanish Influenza Epidemic, the call to arms in Europe, the rapid growth of the car industry, prohibition and the Great Depression.
I was drawn deep into a community of beautifully developed characters, all based on the melange of conversations the author had with those that lived those years. For those that herald from, live in, or have been visitors to Motor City, this book should be on one’s reading lists. The book is so well written.
This book is one of waves, just like life, slow and fast, high and low. There is plenty of drama, passion and excitement, but also rich hunks of the everyday: cooking cabbage, the trot of horses, the smell of sugar, whiskey, church, outhouse, and hot car exhausts in freezing winter air, the paraphernalia of home, and the construction sites of a rapidly expanding city. So much of life is touched, from the pains of childbirth to the blood and guns of Gangs, from the Catholic Church to the Blind Pigs, from the shoeless walk to school to the glitz of visiting Hollywood stars.
Lisa PR Books