THE KEEPER OF THE WALLS by Monique Raphel High


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Another plump, glossy saga from the author of Encore and The Eleventh Year--this time following a Parisian beauty from Europe in the Twenties to America in the Fifties, with a catastrophic marriage and a search for Jewish identity along the rather cheap and exploitative way. Lily Bruisson, daughter of a lumpen nouveau-riche father and a beautiful mother, attracts a handsome husband in 1920s Paris: bored and restless Russian-emigrÉ-Prince Mikhail ""Misha"" Brasilov, who has built a new French fortune since fleeing from post-Revolution Russia. Despite the birth of two children, however, Lily finds life as a jeweled Princess to be naught but a gilded cage--while Misha displays some nasty traits, including virulent anti-Semitism: he refuses to mingle with Lily's Jewish friends, he contributes to fascist causes. Then, to make matters worse, Lily learns that her mother Claire is actually Jewish, a secret she kept from Lily's now-dead father! Furthermore, Lily's social-climbing brother Claude, a cold bigot who weds Misha's pregnant mistress Henriette, is both illegitimate and all-Jewish! So, after a forced abortion adds to Lily's woes, she leaves Misha for a sojourn in Vienna, then returns to him--despite the devotion and kindness of attractive US journalist Mark MacDonald (a would-be novelist, abroad in Paris). But, when Misha's family-business collapses, thanks in part to brother-in-law Claude's machinations, the Russian creep takes off to the US, leaving Lily and the kids to face the worst of the rising Nazi tide: there'll be many moves and narrow escapes; Lily's son Nick manages to reach America; the others suffer terrible concentration-camp experiences. And finally, in 1952 New York, Lily is reunited with her children--they're the family's sole survivors--while the arrival of a grandson brings ""a living link in the unbroken chain"" of Judaism, now fully and finally embraced by Lily. Well-intentioned, perhaps, with some easy-reading appeal for the Joel Gross/Belva Plain audience--but High's slick, romantic style seems a very frail (and faintly offensive) medium for the treatment of Holocaust material.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1984
Publisher: Delacorte