by Paula Reibel ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 20, 1984
Warm-hearted, neatly turned with humor and appealing people: a Jewish family saga (1895-1933) in which three siblings scatter and are reunited in America--all legatees of a mother's stony pride, on her remote pinnacle as Tragic Heroine. In 1895 Solitava (a tiny town in Austria-Hungary), 16-year-old Mindel the Proud, after one shocking try to ""take command of her own life,"" is finally forced to marry Avrum Gentz--a promising scholar and handsome anti-pogrom hero from Russia. And, astoundingly, fierce Mindel fails in love with lively husband Avrum, who respects her intellectual aspirations. Nonetheless, there's grumbling from Avrum's rabbi father, who's increasingly upset about having married his son into a backwater of Hasidic medievalism (""all that spitting, chanting and dancing""). So the elders soon declare the marriage ended; bewildered Avrum--spoiled, pampered, with no idea how to handle failure--is forced to sign the divorce statement; and Mindel, with son Dov, becomes a life-long monument of mourning. She barely tolerates her husband #2, cattle-agent Leib Weisenberg--who's awkward, homely, but good and kindly, adored by stepson Dov as well as their daughters, Dvora and Yudi. (The children learn to hate the name ""Avrum""--sobbed on about in the night by Mindel.) After Lieb's death, Dov takes a jaunty trek through the Ã‰migrÃ‰ trail (he travels far on fictional kinships), endures internment in WW I England, and at last reaches America--penniless but clad in a gentleman's knickers. Meanwhile, Dvora runs off to Vienna with an aristocratic officer, bears him a child, and learns a good deal about betrayal--but she too will reach the New World and marry. In 1933 Yudi arrives as well--on Mindel's orders to find Avrum, who, she thinks, is sending her US checks. (They're really from Dov.) And finally the three children, reunited, will indeed find Avrum--along with illuminations about marriage, the fragility of earthly paradises, and Mindel's need to cherish the memory of love. Agreeable and congenial Old World/immigrant fiction, if without the heavy-going melodrama usually needed for commercial-saga success.
Pub Date: Nov. 20, 1984
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1984
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