The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

  • by Susan Jane Gilman
  • Narrated by Susan Jane Gilman
  • 16 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Karen Weisneck

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.

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- Toby

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-10-2014
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio