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Harris' debut novel is another exemplar of the Jewish saga genus, tooling through turn-of-the-century pogroms, Zionism, and WW II at high-school history-book speed, while reciting the simple joys and hard knocks that line one family's path. Around 1890, when the tale begins, the cultured violin teacher Shmuel Kaminisky, his wife, Sarah, and children--Sonia, Joshua, and Anya--are driven from Odessa by Cossacks. They make their new home in the Pale of Settlement, where they live meagerly and endure further pogroms--embittering Sonia, in particular, who leaves for Chicago, hoping to finance the family's emigration by working as a maid in a wealthy Jewish home. Next, Joshua, a young Zionist in the making, must evade the Czarist draft; and when enough money finally comes from Sonia in America, the Kaminskys embark on a new life, though Sarah dies just before catching sight of Lady Liberty. Mid-crossing, little Anya falls in love with a stowaway, Sasha, a gentile with Bolshevik leanings. In America, Anya and Sonia don't get along, father Kaminsky dies, and word comes from long-lost Joshua, who's landed on his feet in Palestine. Eventually, Anya opts for Judaism, not love, by marrying the actor Morris Barber, a no-goodnik of the first order, though her second son, David, will be the product of a night of stolen passion with Sasha. And right after WW II, David will fall in love with Italian Constance Romano, who'll benefit from kosher cooking instruction from Anya. Earnest but utterly predictable, with characters who aren't allowed enough time on stage to become either known or understood.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1990
Publisher: Dutton