THE GIRLS IN THE VELVET FRAME by Adele Geras

THE GIRLS IN THE VELVET FRAME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The scene is Jerusalem, in 1913; and the girls in the photograph framed in velvet are Rifka (13), Chava (11), Naomi (8), Dvora, and Shoshanna Bernstein--whose older brother Isaac has gone to America and not been heard from. . . and who will be found, at the story's close, with the aid of that miraculous photograph. But the plot is the least of it: Adele Geras is a new writer of uncommon sensitivity and high skill who unfolds events through the perceptions of the participants, so that the story of all is also the story of each. It's Rifka's story as she first shyly, fearfully meets her prospective husband, equally diffident David, and his well-to-do family; it's pert, independent Chava's (no secure future for her!), and romantic, weepy Naomi's; it's the story of Dvora and Shoshanna and the mean boy next door who won't let them feed his rabbits (so every time he goes out. . .). But it's also very much the story of Aunt Mimi, the frivolous aging belle who never married, of whom Mama has never approved, who conspires with the girls to have the photograph taken to surprise Mama--and finally turns down her old beau, German aristocrat Max, rather than change her quixotic ways or leave her darling nieces. Adults would enjoy this as much as children, especially older folks; but the tenderness and compassion, the sense that life is not easy or simple (did Mama really not want to marry Papa?!), the family gatherings that could have come out of a Renoir film--none of this, as much felt as seen, will be lost on a responsive child.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum