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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

Critic Reviews

"[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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • Saint Louis, MO, United States
  • 12-02-14

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Taryn
  • Suffern, NY, United States
  • 09-09-15

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.......

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Toby
  • Portsmouth, NH, United States
  • 06-13-14

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

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, terrible narration.

I started this book several times and regrett getting it on audio. It's a great story, but the reader is alternately flat and suddenly exuberant. Extremely inconsistent and terrible voice work. I think authors are to close to their own material and narration should be done by those who can engage the listeners with their talent. Please re-release this with a real narrator who can do it justice.

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Fun Read

This book was very enjoyable to listen to. The acting was excellent, and I really liked her depiction of the character. I loved all the references made throughout the book. It is hard to remember at times that this is only a work of fiction.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I recommended it after the first chapter

I absolutely love it. I want more Lillian Dunkel! I love how the story weaved between past and present for Lillian. The story geniusly wrapped itself around real life events in our history.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator doesn’t fit

Great book and the narrator (author) does a fine job. But, it would have been so much better w an older voice doing the narration. Perhaps the author is like the main character?