A WOMAN'S PLACE by Leona Blair

A WOMAN'S PLACE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A windy lather of romantic/domestic tangles set in New York and Israel, 1928-76--all of them relentlessly, exploitatively pegged to crises in recent Jewish history. In 1928 heroine Naomi marries Arnold Fursten, stolid as a sturgeon, whose regal progress to the tip-top of a giant cosmetic industry is sketchily chronicled. But even on her wedding day Naomi knows she really loves Arnold's intense brother Joshua, a ""crazy idealist,"" who works for a dream of a Jewish state in Israel. So adultery en-sues over the decades, while the two brothers' families pursue contrasting destinies. Joshua finds his roots in an old settlement in Palestine; he marries warm-hearted, courageous Rachel there; she bears him a son, Benjamin (later she will bear another son, Elea, by a lover); during the British occupation, Joshua raises money to buy and smuggle ammunition; he organizes Jewish WW II resistance, masquerading in the Allied countries as a US Army chaplain. And he will forever be haunted by the death of his beloved brother-in-law lazar in the Warsaw ghetto. Meanwhile, in N.Y., the marriage of Arnold and Naomi is cooled by Arnold's knowledge that his wife dreams of another while in his arms. But the pair does have one child, Julie, who enrages Arnold by marrying half-Jewish playboy Parker Mitchell; Parker, however, turns out to be a shrewd manipulator in the cosmetics biz, eventually becoming (thanks largely to Naomi) a faithful husband/father and an asset to Arnold's industrial empire. Finally, then, the family will meet in Israel after the deaths of Rachel and Benjamin by gun-fire in 1967: tormented Joshua will finally accept his love for illegitimate Elea; Arnold moves ever closer in fraternal love to Joshua; and Naomi, realizing she only adored the man Joshua used to be long ago, admits her love and loyalty to Arnold. Thin-blooded characters, cardboard history (the Holocaust/Israel material is cheapened throughout)--but fans of soft, pulpy romance may find this tolerable, with some surface glamour in the Manhattan luxury-settings and the cosmetic-industry bits.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte