Protecting Paige by Deby Eisenberg – 336 pages
It is the still innocent year of 1962, and twelve-year-old Paige Noble awakens in a hospital room in Chicago. She has no memory of the random act of gang violence that has left her injured and orphaned. As she waits for her famous uncle to come for her, Paige develops a bond with Gladys, a comforting black nurse’s aide, unaware that Gladys’s son was involved in the crime. Soon, the charismatic Maxwell Noble, a celebrated photographer, is located in Europe and rushes to her side. Although he has led a globetrotting bachelor life, he surprises Paige by embracing his new responsibility. He reveals to her a family legacy in the headlines, beginning with the 1915 Eastland disaster on the Chicago River. But Maxwell struggles to hide his long-time obsession with Paige’s mother, his enchanting French sister-in-law.
My Review: 3 stars
Protecting Paige, with its beautiful and alliterative title, is a family drama that mixes in some historical Chicago significance. I found the beginning of this book easy to fall into and truly believed that the historical nature of this book was about the characters’ lives and that there was really a Noble family. I didn’t realize that the earmark of historical fiction in this novel was the bits and pieces of historical names, places and events.
I suppose with out the main focus of a historical time or person, I felt this book was choppy and for that reason kept me at a distance from the storyline. I felt the author did a fine job at the character development of the Nobles. The reader got to see them for what they were worth, their flaws and their strengths.
As in many books, the ending can sum up your overall taste for the story. In this particular book, every character and his or her storylines were wrapped up in a perfectly contrived way. Some readers like that feeling of closure and a “happy” ending, but for me, I lost the realistic force of some of the characters.
Protecting Paige was a book club pick for my book club and we were thrilled that the author agreed to come and give us a mini-presentation about the novel. She was absolutely lovely! She shared pictures of many of the places and information about the Eastland disaster. It was a welcome treat.