City of God
City of God, the fourth installment in Beverly Swerling’s fabulously plotted multi-generational family saga, takes place in mid-19th century Manhattan. Dr. Nicholas Turner is a promising young doctor who leaves Rhode Island to take a position in the notorious Bellevue Hospital. There, he undertakes controversial research in an effort to understand—and abolish—disease, while also fighting to better the conditions in the corrupt and dysfunctional institution. While in Manhattan, Dr. Turner crosses paths with several cousins by marriage—including the widow Manon, who in the process of her charity work considers the socially radical step of converting to Catholicism—and more particularly, with the lovely Caroline Devrey, married to a cruel shipping mogul in love with a Chinese girl he’d “bought” years ago. These characters live out their passions in the midst of a multi-racial, multi-religious city spreading up the island at an alarming pace, undergoing massive population changes, all while the issues of slavery—and the Civil War—loom on the horizon.
Ms. Swerling deftly juggles the many threads of her stories while portraying with passion the history of the times. Family sagas have been quite out of vogue lately: Ms. Swerling may very well revive the genre with this solid, engaging series.