By Hope Katz Gibbs
EVEN IF YOU haven’t read
The Red Tent, odds are good
you have heard of the best-seller by award-winning
author Anita Diamant.
Published in 1987, it has
been translated into 28 languages, sold millions of copies and found a new audience
when it premiered in December 2014 as a miniseries on Lifetime TV.
Although Diamant tells The Costco Connection
that she was flattered by all the attention the show has
received, what she really wants to talk about is her
newest book, The Boston Girl, which was published
This heartwarming historical novel tells the tale
of Addie Baum, whose experience is typical of
immigrants whose parents were unprepared for
America in the early 1900s. To the rescue comes a
community of mentors, led by the head of the
neighborhood settlement, Miss Edith Chevalier,
who applauds Addie’s gumption.
“Gumption is a big theme throughout the book,
and if it wasn’t for Miss Chevalier, Addie probably
wouldn’t have found her voice,” says Diamant from
her home in Boston. “She might have ended up in a
low-paying, low-energy and non-intellectual job.
But that’s not what happens to her. With the help
that she got at 15, Addie finds her way to a kind of
life she dreamed about.”
What makes The Boston Girl all the more
charming is that Addie is 85 when she tells the tale
of her life to her granddaughter, 22, who asks, “How
did you get to be the woman you are today?”
The same can be asked of Diamant, 63, who once
upon a time wanted to be an actress, then a poet or
an English professor. She settled on being a freelance
journalist, and since then has written for The Boston
Globe, Self, Parenting, Parents, Ms. and McCall’s.
“When I started freelancing in the ’80s, I was
itching to write a book, so I started looking for a
topic,” says the Jewish writer, who at the time had
recently married Jim Diamant, “a lapsed Presby-
terian” who converted to Judaism. “We asked the
rabbi for books to read as a guide, but nothing
seemed to fit. So I decided to write one that I
thought would appeal to couples like us.”
The New Jewish Wedding, published in 1984,
was the first of seven nonfiction titles Diamant has
penned on contemporary Jewish life. She jokes,
“After that book was published, I swore I would
write no more Jewish books, but I did. Each time, I
felt a gap on the bookshelf needed to be filled.”
While Diamant says nonfiction is easier to
write, she’s passionate about her novels, for they
transport her back in time.
The Boston Girl, for instance, was inspired by
the history of the Rockport Lodge, located in a seaside town an hour from Boston. Founded in the
early 20th century, it’s the spot where social workers
brought young immigrant working girls for their
first real vacation.
“Taking a vacation like that would have not
been part of their universe,” notes Diamant, who
packs The Boston Girl with additional details about
Jewish cultural beliefs and mores—themes she
knows are relevant today.
“This is a classic immigrant story. Jewish, Italian,
Irish, as well as Middle Eastern and more recently,
Asians and Africans, are having the same experience,” says Diamant, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who came to the U.S. in the 1940s.
“While my parents spoke English, and my
experience was not like Addie’s, I knew growing up
that there was a difference between those of us
raised by parents not born in America and those
who were,” she says. “And, like Addie, I had
wonderful teachers, counselors and drama
coaches who set me off in new directions,
and that is what put me here talking to
you today.” C
Hope Katz Gibbs is a freelance writer
in northern Virginia, who has had a now
well-worn copy of The Red Tent on her bookshelf since 1987.
Signed book gıveaway
COSTCO HAS 50 signed copies of Anita
Diamant’s The Boston Girl to give away.
To enter, go to: costcoconnectionbook
NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR OPT-IN OF AN Y KIND IS
NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES.
Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes is
sponsored by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020. Open to legal residents of the U.S. (except
Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or older at the time of entry. One
entry per household. Entries must be received before the February
issue is available online, which will happen around January 25, 2015.
Winners will be randomly selected and noti;ed by mail on or before
March 1, 2015. The value of the prize is $26. Void where prohibited.
Winners are responsible for all applicable federal, state and local
taxes. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries
received. Employees of Costco or Simon & Schuster and their
families are not eligible.
s m is I
ence,” says Diamant, the daughter of Holocaust sur-
wo t 0
experience was not like Addie’s, I knew growing up
e f i ne
Pennie Clark Ianniciello,
Costco book buyer
I LIKE TO mark my
favorite lines and
passages from books so
I’m able to revisit those
words time and time
again. After ;nishing this
month’s book buyer’s
pick, Anita Diamant’s
The Boston Girl, my copy
looked more like an
exploded pack of sticky
notes than it did a novel.
The story begins
with Addie Baum’s
how her grandmother
became the woman she
is today. Addie begins in
1915, just as she ;nds
her voice, and recounts
her life story—from her
;rst broken heart to a
lifetime of adventures.
It’s the story of a woman
who learns to change
amid a world that
refuses to remain
stagnant around her.
In true Diamant style,
the novel is written with
an eye for historical
accuracy and language
that is engaging and
;uid. (Item #768305;
returns with a classic
Ties that bind
In our digital editions
Click here to watch a video
of Anita Diamant talking about
her novel The Boston Girl.
(See page 14 for details.)