TITCH by Chaim Bermant

TITCH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the first novel of a trilogy, Bermant returns to his popular style of understated comic irony to nudge his modest hero--Sammy Jacob ""Titch"" Hoch of Manchester, England--through boyhood and WW II and some adventures in love and sex. Born in Poland in 1921 and removed to Manchester with his hefty, overbearing father (he of the booming pronouncements--not for nothing was he known in Poland as ""the Cossack""), quietly authoritative mother, and brattish younger sister Soshana, Titch is a prize-winner at school and has an affectionate regard for religious observance. (From Father, head of the synagogue congregation: ""Do you want to become a Rabbi or something, God forbid?"") It is the bright boy Titch who tutors Father's import from Poland, Holtzhacker the wrestler-sized rabbi (of peculiar credentials and stumbling English). Once married to Father's glum sister--obviously the price of the emigration ticket--and equipped with better English, Holtzhacker vanishes. Meanwhile, Titch copes with the complexities of the Anglo-Jewish English community: observing the ways of heady circles of the wealthy, and the remarkable transformations of the recent Jewish immigrants; surviving the agonies of a first dance; falling in love. At University time, there's the war, and after an initial turn-down from the army (Titch is of small stature), he's catapulted into--of all things--the Polish Army in Britain; and wielding power as ""Rabbi Gilchrist"" is that enterprising chaplain, the flexible Holtzhacker, who has ""arranged"" for Titch to be his assistant. In the meantime, Titch weathers affairs of the heart and bed-chamber: a 55-year-old wife of a respected friend, a gentile granddaughter of a baronet, and finally a lady who wins Titch's deeper affections. An amiable account of the by-ways of an amiable young man, with, however, firm underpinnings encompassing the times and temper of an Anglo-Jewish community in transition.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1987
Publisher: St. Martin's