Alas, Geras (Apricots at Midnight, The Girls in the Velvet Frame) has now applied her penchant for intricate plot-schemes to a kind of Jewish-immigrant Grand Hotel. Aboard the America-hound ship in 1904 are: solemn, withdrawn Rachel Klein, 17, who has lost a loyer (killed by Jew-haters, it turns out, rashly defending her honor), and her father, who thinks he's arranged a good new American match for her; gabby, blooming Golda Schwartz, 19, and her new baby (who'll have to have milk, to Golda's chagrin, from sloppy unwed Polish mother Olga); spunky, premature-feminist Mina lsaacs, 14, her ineffectual mother, and her inward, ""different"" brother Eli, nine. Worry that Eli will be taken for ""mentally defective"" by the immigrant authorities, along with highsigns that fat, nasty (i.e., insecure, self-hating) Yankel Katz will steal Eli's prized wooden horse, are major preoccupations. There are also two personable young men who fall for stand-offish Rachel (her father relents too) and take-charge-sh Mina--plus an indomitable old lady, who tries to keep everybody's spirits up, and a despairing old gent, who succeeds in dying. The narrative cuts skillfully from one point of view to another; but the book is fluff as a Jewish-immigrant story, and hokum as fiction.