This three-generational saga, about a Jewish family that sends down roots in Germany and England after leaving a Polish...

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FROM THE BROKEN TREE

This three-generational saga, about a Jewish family that sends down roots in Germany and England after leaving a Polish village circa 1900, is touted as being of a feather with Thorn Birds; but Langley hasn't fueled her characters for the emotional overkill of TB, and there are batteries of Gentleman's-Agreement podium explications of bigotry which are tiresome and embarrassing. The tragic, familiar horrors that followed the migrations of many Eastern European Jews--pogroms, the Holocaust, ""civilized"" anti-Semitism--are wallowed in here with little taste or sensitivity. Constant throughout is Grandmother Leah--her childhood in Poland; first and only passionate attachment to revolutionist Mordecai; marriage to gentle Chaim; grinding poverty in England; the deaths of two children and Chaim; the loss of her sister and family in Germany; and at long last ease in body if not in mind as son Manny works around the clock to wind up eventually with knighthood. Then there's grandson Joe, raised in the best schools, whose girl is killed in Israel. The girl turns out to be the adopted child of Joe's aunt, who had doffed family and religion to marry wealth and position. And, oy gevalt, Mordecai turns up as the lover of Leah's daughter Ruth. The story clips together like that--and it ends, after the PLO takes the whole mispocha hostage at Joe's wedding to. . . well, never mind. As a family tale, harmless and busy enough, like Belva Plain's less pretentious Evergreen (p. 265), but the subjects of anti-Semitism and Jewish identity are too intricate for bassdrum treatment. Still, though The Broken Tree is a bundle of twigs, lamination will undoubtedly turn it into profitable pulp.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978