Tell us a story

LoveReading is thrilled to announce the launch of The Very Short Story Award 2019! If you think you have a story we'll love, click here to find out more and how to enter:

Find out more

Saint Mazie

by Jami Attenberg

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Saint Mazie

An astonishing, stimulating, and quite quite wonderful novel based on the life of the indomitable Mazie Phillips who lived in New York through some of the most interesting times of the first part of the 20th century. With a fictional mix of diaries, recounting of family history and an unpublished autobiography, this has an almost documentary feel to it; it is quite matter of fact, which cleverly emphasises the emotion and feeling behind the written word. There is a stark rawness to this novel, it feels as though the author has seen a truth, felt a connection to Mazie and born witness to her audacious individuality. In this interesting, clever read, Attenberg takes a fictional peek at the woman behind the celebrity, in all her gutsy, passionate, courageous glory. ~ Liz Robinson

Liz Robinson

Saint Mazie Synopsis

From the bestselling author of The Middlesteins comes comes this unique novel about a forgotten heroine of the 1930s. Meet Mazie Phillips: big-hearted and feisty, she runs The Venice, the famed movie theatre in the rundown Bowery district of New York City. She spends her days taking tickets, chatting with drunks and eccentrics, and chasing out the troublemakers. After closing up, the nights are her own, and she fills them with romance and booze aplenty-even during Prohibition. When the Great Depression hits, and homelessness soars, Mazie opens The Venice to those in need, giving them shelter and dimes for food and booze, and earning the nickname 'Saint Mazie'. Inspired by Joseph Mitchell's essay about Mazie in Up in the Old Hotel, acclaimed author Jami Attenberg's novel honours an extraordinary life and heralds a completely original approach to writing historical fiction. Weaving together fictionalised diaries, writings and interviews, Attenberg has constructed an utterly convincing portrait of Mazie Philips, which is also a deeply moving portrait of New York as it passed through the First World War, Prohibition, the boom of the '20s, and then the terrible depression of the '30s.

Saint Mazie Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Phylippa Smithson - 'I am missing Saint Mazie so much since finishing this most excellent and engaging memoir of her life.  Quite brilliant.'
  • Suze Lavender - 'Saint Mazie is a beautiful story about a remarkable woman...I liked this book a lot, it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'I loved this book!...This is a book that will make you forget all that is happening around you. Pure escapism! What a woman!'
  • Francesca Ashurst - 'an important book because it shows how the kindness and compassion of one person can transform the lives of others...I can’t stress how wonderful this novel is, I couldn’t put it down.'
  • Barbara Gaskell - 'A great time had by all. Recommended... Jami Attenberg’s approach to the structure of the book was interesting although the story itself and the wonderful character of Mazie needed no added frills.'
  • Gill Wilmott - 'Not my sort of book, but very well written and I believe other types of reader, especially those with more knowledge of New York than I, may well enjoy it more.'
  • Janet Gilliard - 'The style is a little unusual and takes a while to get used to but is worth the effort.'

Saint Mazie Press Reviews

Fascinating ... Attenberg's prose is sharp, fast-paced and economical, brilliantly channelling Mazie's vivacious character. And despite being set firmly in the past, Mazie's experiences of grief, family, friendship and mental health are timeless and universal Observer Attenberg's novel reads like a very real portrait of the 1920s and 1930s ... this is a novel with as big a heart as Mazie herself Independent Full of love and drink and dirty sex The New York Times A terrific novel, touching, funny and big-hearted -- Monica Ali Fierce, feisty and moving, this is a fine portrait of an inspiring woman The Sunday Express Jami Attenberg's fictional reconstruction of Mazie's life is a bold departure from how historical novels are usually written. Split between fictionalised diary entries, excerpts from The Unpublished Autobiography of Mazie Phillips-Gordon (also fiction) and Attenberg's invented interviewees, the structure resonates a relentless energy that keeps the narrative rattling along ... Attenberg captures Mazie's voice so vividly you can close the book and still hear her talking. She is a tremendous achievement ... and you sure won't forget her in a hurry. Attenberg has written a bold, magnificent book about family, altruism, women and freedom, as well as a love letter to New York and a timely social manifesto for the 21st century. What more can we ask of our fiction? Guardian Wonderful -- Viv Groskop Red Fresh and witty... Saint Mazie looks deep into the spirit of generosity. Jami Attenberg's Mazie lives a very big life in a very small space, turning her darkest experiences into something inspiring Wall Street Journal Ingeniously constructed... An attentive character study that also happens to be rich in city lore and period detail, Saint Mazie is an edifying, companionable and moving novel Kansas City Star Tender-hearted and loose-living. Mazie is the unlikely guardian angel of New York City's Depression-era down-and-outs. You'll love this smart, touching novel that brings her world to life People Magazine A hard-nosed heroine with a heart of gold, Mazie will leave her mark on you Book Diva Saint Mazie offers proof again that Jami Attenberg is a brilliant, lion-hearted storyteller -- Maggie Shipstead, author of Seating Arrangements I'd love to be Jami Attenberg for a day to see what she sees. The next best thing is to read the touching, funny, and wise Saint Mazie, which is as difficult to categorise as the hard-living, heart-breaking, soul-saving ticket-taker it is about -- Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat Saint Mazie is a novel with as much style and moxie as its titular character. I missed Mazie Gordon-Phillips and her family when I was finished reading, but I missed New York, too. By telling this one woman's story, Jami Attenberg has managed to write an ode to New Yorkers of every generation. She is a true poet of the city -- Gabrielle Zevin, author of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


If you loved this, you might like these...

The Binding
Into the Night
Roar
The Turn of Midnight

All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781846689925
Publication date: 18/02/2016
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781846689918
Publication date: 11/06/2015
Publisher: Serpent's Tail an imprint of Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781846689925
Publication date: 18th February 2016
Author: Jami Attenberg
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Jami Attenberg

Jami Attenberg is the author of Saint Mazie; The Middlesteins, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction and was published in nine countries; a story collection, Instant Love; and the novels The Kept Man and The Melting Season.  She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Author photo © Zack Smith

More About Jami Attenberg

More Books By Jami Attenberg

Cover for All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Cover for Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
View All Books By Jami Attenberg

Share this book