Review: Saint Mazie

September 28, 2015 1920's and 1930's, book review, historical fiction 3

Saint Mazie

  • Written by:  Jami Attenberg
  • Published by:  Grand Central Publishing, June 2, 2015
  • Length:  336 pages
  • Source: Purchased

Summary:  Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and bawdy, she’s the truth-telling proprietress of The Venice, the famed New York City movie theater. It’s the Jazz Age, with romance and booze aplenty–even when Prohibition kicks in–and Mazie never turns down a night on the town. But her high spirits mask a childhood rooted in poverty, and her diary, always close at hand, holds her dearest secrets.

When the Great Depression hits, Mazie’s life is on the brink of transformation. Addicts and bums roam the Bowery; homelessness is rampant. If Mazie won’t help them, then who? When she opens the doors of The Venice to those in need, this ticket-taking, fun-time girl becomes the beating heart of the Lower East Side, and in defining one neighborhood helps define the city.

Then, more than ninety years after Mazie began her diary, it’s discovered by a documentarian in search of a good story. Who was Mazie Phillips, really? A chorus of voices from the past and present fill in some of the mysterious blanks of her adventurous life.

Inspired by the life of a woman who was profiled in Joseph Mitchell’s classic Up in the Old HotelSaint Mazie is infused with Jami Attenberg’s signature wit, bravery, and heart. Mazie’s rise to “sainthood”–and her irrepressible spirit–is unforgettable.(publisher)

My Thoughts:  From the beginning we learn that Mazie has not had an easy life.  Her sister rescued her from her neglectful parents and she and her husband help raise Mazie.  From an early age she began working the ticket booth at The Venice.  She met and talked to everyone, she noticed things and people.

Marie became friends to nuns, cops, bums and everyone in between.  She had a good heart, there is no doubt about it.  If ever there were a character to cheer for it’s Mazie.  I just wanted something good for her.  She manages to survive when her sister insists she be a good girl, and is forever cleaning the kitchen.  Much later it will be Mazie that saves her sister, catering to her demanding need to find the perfect apartment.  Mazie  tries to avoid the wrong men, but she falls in love with a Captain,a man who has another life somewhere else, but when he stops in NYC, it’s Mazie he craves.

The book is made up of diary entries and letters and stories of others impacted by her life.  I loved this time period, the wild Jazz age and then the amazingly sad and unforgiving depression.  Mazie’s gift to others never stopped.

I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it.  It’s a short enjoyable read, pick it up!!


3 Responses to “Review: Saint Mazie”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I really enjoyed this one too! Mazie was one of those “quintessential NYC characters” that you come to recognize if you live there…famous for just being themselves. Glad you enjoyed it!

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