WEST TO EDEN by Gloria Goldreich


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More super-achievers rising from immigrant rags, served up with a surfeit of cream cheese and marmalade by Goldreich (Leah's Journey, Four Days, and Leah's Children); this one starts in Amsterdam of 1897 and ends in Arizona circa 1940. Emma Coen is betrayed by her father, who kept a mistress, and by a fiancÉ who beds and abandons her when Daddy's fortune is lost. Her mother copes by suicide, and Emma is launched on a career as ""poor relation"" to feverishly wealthy European Jews from Holland to London--until, that is, she takes the fortuitous advice of American. Jewish financier Jacob Schiff, and establishes a boardinghouse in remote Galveston, Texas. From here the Jewish aristocrat with the burnished copper hair (which every man who meets her compares to a candle flame) marries ""beneath"" her to a passionate Russian Jew, Isaac Lewin, who goes on (like many here) to become the very top of his field (in this case, department stores), and fabulously wealthy, once this the couple has moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and established a family. Their archrivals become the coincidentally appearing ""second family"" that Emma's father had illegitimately spawned. Emma's daughter, Leone, becomes pregnant by the son of this family who then promptly dies in WW I; Leone is saved by (and marries) her psychiatrist. The Lewin marriage weathers affairs and the usual angst to emerge strong and fine with Emma, Isaac, and a handsome Jewish doctor son dedicating a clinic to the people of Arizona--in the name of both Emma's parents and her father's mistress. Name-droppy, status-obsessed, but somehow, despite it all, still very readable and sure to please Goldreich fans.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1987
Publisher: Macmillan