Rosa Galperin, a nineteen-year old who has emigrated from Russia. She was chosen out of all of her siblings to live in Chicago with her aunt and aunt’s family, a family whose children constantly mock Rosa and make fun of her aspirations.
Rosa is filled with dreams, the typical immigrant dream of getting rich. But, along with that dream she also desires something else, something that her family members and friends can not understand. She desires love.
While others strive to find a man who is an excellent financial provider, Rosa strives not only for that, but also for love. She will work hard to succeed, but within that environment, she needs the emotional attachments.
Along comes Sanya Voronov, much to the dismay of her family. They can not understand her affection and attachment to him. He has nothing as far as financial stability, but he adores and loves Rosa. He will strive to provide the monetary comforts that she yearns for. But, with each new endeavor, he falls and his status, in the eyes of Rosa’s friends and family, is diminished. She is the one who is constantly working and providing the funds necessary for their survival.
Sanya wants to be successful, but with each undertaking something occurs that causes him to fail. Many of the men in his life admire his conviction to try his hand at what he wants to do, even with his failures. The women in Rosa’s life do not comprehend why Rosa stays with him through thick and thin.
Marshall is masterful in encompassing the eras in the novel, beginning with 1920. The reader is taken to the time periods, with all of the interactions of daily life, clothes, household items, architecture, working conditions, and societal and economic demands. She paints complete pictures of the immigrant experience, and how their dreams are often shattered. She details quite vividly immigrant life in Chicago, through all of the hardships involved.
Marshall has infused the pages with vivid word-imagery, and prose filled with emotional content. She sets the foundation for what providing means in terms of financial stability and/or love. She leaves the reader to question or think about what it means to provide.
Rosa was the main bread winner in the family. Often there were times she wanted more, like her friends obtained. But, her friends were only interested in monetary gain, and items they could show off or flaunt to others.
Whenever she had those thoughts, she thought of Sanya and the deep love he held for her, and her love for him. He provided for her on an emotional level, and provided what she needed…love. Theirs was a love that lasted through the years. In her eyes, what more could she have asked for. Sanya died a man loved by his wife and children, and died thinking he was a failure. But, he was not a failure in Rosa’s eyes, because his success lied in his devotion and love for Rosa.
The Provider, in my opinion, is a book that is educational, as far as the immigrant experience, assimilation within time and place, and a novel that Marshall has written with brilliance and sensitivity.
I highly recommend The Provider, by Evelyn R. Marshall to everyone.
February 18, 2013 – 8 Adar I, 5773
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