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Book Discussion "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

  • Oct 13, 2013 · 3:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

“A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life…If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience…It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919…Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city’s poor. Primarily this is Francie’s book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” –New York Times

Born on December 15, 1896 in Brooklyn, New York to German immigrants, she grew up poor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and attended Girl’s High School.  These experiences served as the framework to her first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943).

After marrying George H. E. Smith, a fellow Brooklynite, she moved with him to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he pursued a law degree at the University of Michigan. At this time, she gave birth to two girls and waited until they were in school so she could complete her higher education. Although Smith had not finished high school, the university allowed her to enroll in classes. There she honed her skills in journalism, literature, writing, and drama, winning a prestigious Avery Hopwood Award. She was a student in the classes of Professor Kenneth Thorpe Rowe.

In 1938 she divorced her husband and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There she married Joseph Jones in 1943, the same year in which A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published. She teamed with George Abbott to write the book for the 1951 musical adaptation of the same name. Throughout her life, Smith worked as a dramatist, receiving many awards and fellowships including the Rockefeller Fellowship and the Dramatists Guild Fellowship for her work in drama. Her other novels include Tomorrow Will Be Better (1947), Maggie-Now (1958) and Joy in the Morning (1963).

On January 17, 1972, she died from pneumonia in Shelton, Connecticut, at the age of 75. -From Wikipedia


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  • Rochelle

    Very Nice Discussion, it is always a pleasure hearing and listening to others thoughts and opinions on the book that we have read!!!

    October 16, 2013

  • Asata V.

    Sorry to cancel last minute. Enjoy and hope to meet you all soon.

    October 13, 2013

  • Chappell

    I would love to attend but I have not yet read the book. I will try to get it read during rhe marathon so I can participate

    October 11, 2013

    • Rochelle

      Not a problem if you have not read the book, you are more than welcome to come and sit in on the discussion it works either way:-))

      October 11, 2013

    • Chappell

      Excited...ill be there.

      1 · October 11, 2013

  • safioo

    My apologies. I have change my RSVP. I start teaching another class on Tuesday and I need to make some changes to the lesson planning. I am so sorry. I was looking forward to meeting everyone. :(

    October 11, 2013

  • Sumita

    Oh no! I cannot make it on Sunday; I am attending a friend's wedding. Have a good time and I can't wait to join you all next time!

    October 10, 2013

    • Rochelle

      Thank you for letting us know!!

      October 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I can't make it!!! I hope you ladies have a great time and I'll catch you next month :)

    1 · October 10, 2013

    • Rochelle

      Thx for letting us know see you next time:-))

      October 10, 2013

  • Char

    sorry I will not be able to make it

    October 7, 2013

  • Erica S.

    Excited to meet everyone

    1 · August 24, 2013

    • Rochelle

      We are looking forward to meeting you as well!!!

      August 26, 2013

5 went

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