June 2014 Indie Next List
“In her first foray into fiction, Gilman offers a narrator who is by turns heartbreakingly sympathetic, stubborn, passionate, ruthless, ingratiating, exasperating, clever, and insufferable in an immigrant success story with many unexpected twists. Soon after young Lillian arrives from Russia with her family, her unreliable father disappears. When an accident cripples Lillian, she is abandoned by her unstable mother. Readers follow Lillian through her joining and losing a family, a marriage to an Errol Flynn look-alike, the creation of a wildly successful business, some highly questionable decisions, a visit to the White House, and an assault charge -- at age 74! What a character! What a book!”
— Banna Rubinow, The River's End Bookstore, Oswego, NY
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 seventy 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.
About the Author
Susan Jane Gilman is the author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress and Kiss My Tiara. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, and has written commentary for "The New York Times," "The Los Angeles Times," and "Ms. "magazine, among others. Her fiction and essays have received several literary awards. Though she lives in Geneva, Switzerland, she remains, eternally, a child of New York.