The Way of Beauty

Written by Camille Di Maio
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

The Way of Beauty is a charming multi-generational love story, but it is more than that: it is a story of family, love lost, and love found.

Vera is the daughter of German immigrants who live in New York City at the turn of the last century. While still very young, she forms a friendship with Angelo, the handsome, Italian newsstand operator, who is a decade older. As Vera grows into a young woman, she realizes that she is in love with Angelo, but he breaks Vera’s heart by marrying Pearl, a daughter of wealthy socialites. He also becomes stepfather to Pearl’s son, William. Pearl is everything that Vera is not: she’s older, she’s rich, she has a child, and she is an activist fighting for women’s voting rights. Nonetheless, the two women form a friendship, with Vera becoming William’s second mother. But with Pearl away so often, Vera and Angelo grow closer, and Vera can no longer deny her feelings.

Decades later, Vera’s daughter, Alice, is grappling with her own romantic turmoil, torn between two very different men. She also knows that, because of the work of the women who came before her, she has choices in her life that previous generations of women did not.

I was spellbound from the first page of this gripping novel and was caught up in the impossible choices both Vera and Alice had to make. At times sentimental but not overly so, the book also pays homage to the suffragette movement and the groundwork that these fearless women laid for future generations of disenfranchised women. It is also a loving tribute to the workers who risked their lives and health in building iconic structures in New York City, such as Penn Station, and the importance of preserving history.