#Bookreview: Born of Love

Rita Baker’s Mother

Review of Born of Love

Click on image to purchase Born of Love from Amazon.

Born of Love by Rita Baker opens with a gripping scene of a young woman who has just hurled herself into the sea off Ellis Island. As the icy water numbs her, she recalls the shock of learning that her parents withheld her true heritage from her until she was sixteen, this shock followed shortly by the death of her parents in a freak accident just as the family was set to emigrate from Poland to America. Before she can sink into oblivion, she is plucked from the sea by two young men who represent both sides of her heritage: Sean O’Malley, who is Catholic, and Maurice Bloom, who is Jewish. So begins Tova’s journey to find true love. The year is 1908.

From the title of the book, as well as the opening chapters, I expected Born of Love to be a conventional love story, along the lines of which man will Tova choose? However, as I read, I came to learn that it is much more than that. Born of Love is a novel of discovery on many different levels, a rite of passage story. The novel begins with Tova’s passage from childhood into adolescence when she learns the secret her parents had been keeping from her. From that point on, with each new discovery–whether affirming, confounding, exhilarating, or devastating–and she experiences all of these–she moves one step closer toward a fully-realized womanhood.

While there were plenty of villains and obstacles to keep the story interesting, I particularly enjoyed the parts about the New York City garment district: the working conditions young women like Tova had to contend with, the changes to the industry brought about by the Great War, and some unexpectedly shady dealings when Tova went into business with Sean manufacturing women’s nightgowns of high-quality design at an affordable price. 

As I began to reflect on why Tova’s manufacturing business would have resonated with me to the extent that it did, I realized that it reminded me of The Color Purple by Alice Walker. In both instances, the creation of women’s clothing played a pivotal role in an abused and exploited woman’s ability to achieve her own power, strength, and independence by providing others with clothing designed to make them feel good about their identity as women. 

And in the end, did Tova overcome her past to find true love? No spoilers here–you will have to read Born of Love for yourself!

From the Author

BORN OF LOVE  mirrors my own life in many ways. I was orphaned at an early age and lived with my grandparents who were from Poland and heard many stories of life in the Polish villages, in the early part of the 19th century, and their hopes of leaving for a better life, in London England, that was free of the stifling narrow existence of rural village life. Stories that fascinated and nurtured my thoughts.

My life entered  another phase when I met and married Harry, a British lawyer and with two young boys to take up my time,  my desire to write had to take a back seat, a niggle that never left until they flew-the-coop and at last, and with my husband’s encouragement, I began what I was born to do, write, here in Canada, after following our sons to this blessed continent. When Harry and I became engaged, I was 19, he was 37. We were deeply in-love and remained so for 56 years. I was one of the lucky ones.

My mother was 22 in 1932 and died a year later, six weeks after I was born. She was a brilliant pianist and went to a special school run by a famous pianist of the day for gifted pianists. I often think that if she had been alive, I would have become a pianist instead of a writer.  I dedicated BORN OF LOVE to her with this picture so that she might live forever.

114 thoughts on “#Bookreview: Born of Love

  1. I always so enjoy your reviews! Born to Love sounds like a wonderful read and reminds me a touch of Work by Louisa May Alcott with a very similar theme to it. Mrs Baker has written a story that transcends time and I look forward to reading it for myself. Thank you, Liz! ☺️

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I so enjoy your insightful book reviews, Liz! The time period in which the story is set interests me a lot, and the struggle women went through to make a life för themselves is truly fascinating as well as family secrets – always intruiging 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I really enjoyed your introduction of “Born of Love”, Liz, because you already made me feel part of the writer’s story! My mother in law was Polish and I know people here, who opened tailer’s shop to produce women’s garments in that period in order to become indipendent and find satisfaction. Best regards Martina

    Liked by 4 people

  4. What an interesting historical romance. I’m not drawn to stories that start with a miserable woman giving up on life but it sounds like that was simply the vehicle for her life. That moment of giving up drove her to so much more. Sounds excellent, Liz.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’d say it was more a matter of desperation because she was so young she didn’t see any other options at that point.

      When I read your comment, I did have to smile because it reminded me of a competition a classmate and I had in grad school to see whose story would out-pathetic the other that week in workshop.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. You have a terrific knack for book reviewing, Liz! Your reviews are VERY well-written, and offer just the right amount of information — enough to get readers intrigued, but minus spoilers.

    Also, it’s interesting/disturbing that many novels have scenarios of people drowning or being saved from drowning — Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda,” Jack London’s “Martin Eden,” etc. I guess those scenarios provide plenty of drama…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Dave. I find book reviews very challenging to write.

      I think there is something archetypal about the notion of drowning. It occurred to me as I was reading a poetry collection with a lot of water imagery that we must have water to live, but at the same time, if we give ourselves over to it completely, it will kill us.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Based on your review this book sounds great! I like the fact that you’ve included author photos and comments as part of the review. But I find the cover art confusing (I know the author likely has no control over this) because it evokes the 1950s.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Wow! A terrific review, Liz! 😀 I’m taken with the plot and how parts remind you of the wonderful The Colour Purple. It was fascinating to read about Rita and the heartwrenching story about her mother and the dedication to her in the book is so moving.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I can see the beginning of the story intrigued you to find out more. The unexpected turns of the story kept your interest. Excellent review, Liz. Rita’s bio said she was born in 1932, 6 weeks after her mother gave birth to her? Her early part of life must be harsh.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You write the most incredible book reviews, Liz. I especially appreciated that you included the author’s bio which adds so much to my reading enjoyment. Family ties, moving from one country to another – a story of love and transition. Thank you so much for the introduction.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. This book sounds fascinating. I especially enjoy hearing about novels based around autobiographical events, the delicate play between fact and fiction, and how fiction sometimes communicates a deeper truth than the mere narration of “what really happened.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This book is now on my list. I also like the autobiography note the author wrote. I must agree that the cover and title would not ever have drawn me in to open the jacket to read the synopsis. However your review did reel me in, so great job Liz. 📖💙

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great review, Liz! Scribblers are in need of the likes of your descriptive assessments to encourage both the potential readers as well as the authors, whom no matter how good their creations might be, most will remain experts at self doubt and thankful of your presence.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A wonderful, comprehensive review, Liz, that leaves me wanting to know more. Like you say “…no spoilers here…” I believe we are always curious about the authors and possibly where the stories come from. Rita Baker’s personal story is varied and interesting. Also, leaves me wanting to know more. I have put “Born of Love” on my reading list. Thank you for sharing, Liz. 🙂 (Dziekuje – “jen-koo-yea”)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Erica! I’m so glad you enjoyed the review and that you’ve put “Born of Love” on your reading list. I do find it interesting that at any event with an author Q & A, invariably one of the first questions asked is whether the book, story, or poem was autobiographical. (You’re welcome. :))

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! Nothing like jumping into a story (no pun intended) by hurling one’s self off of Ellis Island. I find most stories dealing with the challenges immigrants face when coming to a new nation quite interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This story reminds me of an episode of “Finding Your Roots” on PBS, one of my favorite shows. America is such a complicated place. So many stories and such odd ones. Anyone’s presence here is a bit of a miracle. Blessings on your weekend!


  16. Another great write-up by you. I’ll most likely pass on purchasing. Presently reading “Truman” by Joe Scarborough. Took me forever to read “Grant.” Stay warm, and it looks like still shoveling. Mary Agnes misses the snow, I do not. “B” Safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Liz, thanks for putting us onto this great story! Without your excellent coverage, I would have dismissed it as a romance, which isn’t my thing. Ah, but the history and all the other elements: intriguing. Super cover, BTW.

    Now, when it’s made into a movie (which it sounds perfect for), we can say we heard about it here first.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Reblogged this on The Last Chapter and commented:
    Liz is a loyal follower, but before that statement should come that she has taught me so much through her wisdom within her post. A must to visit and a recommendation to follow her site. E.

    Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

    #Book Reviews #Authors #Blogging

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I absolutely love your reviews, Liz. Your research bring the book and the author to life. What a story of the author, and what an intriguing book. I was surprised at the book cover, not what I would have expected. Thank you, Liz!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. An enticing review, Liz. A piece of history that would have gone unnoticed, had it not been for Rita’s devotion to bringing her mother’s story to light. I don’t know what kind of pianist she would have made, but it sounds like her writing is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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