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The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street Audiobook

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.

Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, "The Ice Cream Queen" - doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality.

Lillian's rise to fame and fortune spans 70 years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

©2014 Susan Jane Gilman (P)2014 Hachette Audio

What the Critics Say

"[A] standout travel memoir...Gilman's descriptions of their trials and tribulations crackle with wit." (Booklist)

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (181 )
5 star
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3.9 (165 )
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4.1 (162 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Karen Weisneck 02-22-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "More, please"

    I listened to this over the summer and just loved it, author-narrator and all. I sneak up on this Audible page every so often, hoping to find something new by this author.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 06-13-14
    Toby Portsmouth, NH, United States 06-13-14 Member Since 2014

    Anglophile. Prefer only British fiction and mysteries. Good translations of Italian, too.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't sue me! I loved every minute of this novel"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Only one-third into this book, I was tweeting about it and telling friends. The story was captivating and the characters complex and interesting. Also, the historical aspects were brilliantly placed and informative.`


    What other book might you compare The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street to and why?

    Perhaps the author's earlier book, Hypocrite int he Pouffy White Dress. Her style is her own, so comparisons are a bit meaningless.


    What does Susan Jane Gilman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The early years of the immigrant in lower Manhattan and the struggles to survive, succeed and thrive -- with humor.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I never answer this question because I think a novel is a novel and a film is a film It's a silly comparison.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me laugh, think and cry a little, too. It was so rich in detail and characterization. I wanted to be there and be a friend to Lillian. I also thought the social commentary of this period of American history was so well done and thoughtful. I can only hope that Ms. Gilman is working on her next novel. I know I'll buy it.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 12-02-14
    Linda 12-02-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous Story, Questionable Narrator"
    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Hired someone else to do the narration. Not all authors should narrate their own books. It took a lot for me to get past her voice. There was little difference between the characters' voices and it was clear she was not a skilled narrator. The story, however, was fabulous.


    Any additional comments?

    This story was excellent. It was not the story I was expecting from the cover. The cover suggests a more "girlish" story line, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the characters and the story itself. I would most definitely recommend the book. I eventually got used to the narrator, but I have to admit I almost returned the book after the first few chapters and would have had I not become so interested in the story.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marge O'Connor 06-27-14 Member Since 2013
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    "licked it up"

    It's difficult to write a short review on a smart phone screen. But if i convince just one more person to read this story, the effort will be worth it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-09-15
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-09-15 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "So sue Susan", the author, for her terrible book"

    When will authors learn that they are rarely qualified to read their own books?? A Jewish accent, which was a critical part of the story was something she could not pull off. I could do better and that is not saying much! If she said, "so sue me", or "darlings" one more time I was going to vomit. It was a long, drawn out, boring story about a totally unlikeable character. The beginning was actually an interesting account of the immigrant experience in turn of the century NYC. Then it just went downhill very quickly. I tried listening to the entire book because it was my bookclub selection- but couldnt make it past 12 hrs. By then I really didnt care what happened to all the self-centered characters. So, sue me, it was terrible.......

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mayfair Power Systems, Inc 05-21-17 Member Since 2016
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    "I love the story and the narrator / writer"

    I love all the research the writer did for the background information about ice cream. It made the book very enjoyable. I highly recommend it!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-18-17 Member Since 2017
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    5
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    "Awful narrator"

    Great story. Couldn't take the voice of the narrator another minute. I gave up on this book after Chapter 7. The narrator's voice made everything about the book annoying.....tone didn't match the story or characters. Akin to bad infomercial or local tv commercial acting. Very lame and unconvincing. The, "so sue me" 's and "darlings" were over used and equally annoying. The story was interesting and compelling, which Is the reason I made it through almost 7 chapters. But, life is too short to be annoyed by leisure reading (or listening).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    URSULA G 02-08-17
    URSULA G 02-08-17 Member Since 2017

    I am obsessed with audio books! My favorite genre is erotica and romance -- there's just not enough hours in the day to enjoy ...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So Sue Me!"

    I really liked this book -- while this is not my normal genre, I do enjoy it sometimes so I'm really glad my book club chose this book. I as well as other members of my book club chose to listen to the audio version and all 3 of us really liked the narration and found it a more pleasant experience than reading it, especially because the book is so long. I liked that even though Malka/Lillian's lot changed in life, she was still fundamentally the little girl nobody wanted. And that was the battle for little to overcome her insecurities so she could recognize and appreciate when she did have love.

    This was definitely worth the credit. Through the laughter and the tears I couldn't stop listening until the story ended.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda H Newton 01-19-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Great travel story"

    A good story that kept my husband and me engaged for all of our road trip from RI to DC.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NMwritergal 09-07-14
    NMwritergal 09-07-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shiksa Writes and Narrates Book = Disaster"

    Shiksa or Shikse: Derogatory term for a non-Jewish woman.

    1. It's usually not an issue when an author writes as/about another race, religion, ethnicity, or gender if they are skilled, but this author is not.

    2. She has the syntax right for "Jewish-speak" but not the cadence or inflection so it's like some clueless white guy trying to do "gangsta-speak."

    3. Author assumes everyone understand the 100 or so Yiddish terms she uses over and over and over with no context. They don't. "He's a gonif!" (theif). "Such a macher" (big shot). I happened to Google "common Yiddish terms" to show to my boyfriend after listening to a Weird Al Yankovic song. I was laughing but he didn't know any of the words other than "oy." She does this with Italian too. My Italian is good enough, but if you don't speak Italian, you're lost. And in this case she uses whole sentences instead of single words, though about 75% less than the Yiddish. Honestly, I've never heard so many foreign words used so often in any English book EVER.

    4. Author is a terrible narrator. Everyone sounds the same (except the stuttering husband--and for some reason she does an Italian accent). The 5-yr-old main character sound the same as when she's 75. She does not do a Yiddish accent and does not pronounce the Yiddish words with a decent accent.

    5. Unlikable main character. She's fine as 5-yr-old but becomes progressively more unlikable as the story goes on until she's a completely horrid. Unfortunately, you know right off the bat that she becomes a total wretch because it flashes back from the present (when she's about 75 and says "so sue me" and "darlings" about 100 times each--amateur hour when an author does that) to the past.

    6. What is she? She's a Jewish (from Russia) but ends up living with Italians from the age of about 6 until she marries. But how does she raise her son? Who knows. It's never mentioned. She marries another Jew but there's no Jewishness in sight other than the Yiddish. She kinda-sorta passes herself off as Italian but the Yiddish never goes away (the Italian does), and she marries a Jew in the 1930s why would people think she's Italian? She doesn't seem to go to church after she gets married but she doesn't go to synagogue either. This aspect of the story completely disappears when she's around 20. Very odd.

    7. The story: Well, the "building an ice cream empire" part was interesting.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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