PROOFS OF AFFECTION by Rosemary Friedman


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An unusually appealing and empathic study of an Orthodox Jewish family in England. The devout, dutiful father here is Sydney--who immerses himself in synagogue and prayer, who's committed to charity and fair dealing, who always brings candy and flowers for wife Kitty on Friday nights. (""To each the other's word was law."") Where, then, did Sydney go astray with his children? Josh, a dentist, is an indifferent observer of his religion, a generally timid fellow who breaks off his engagement to Pallia just before the wedding, thus escaping the iron grasp of bossy in-laws. (""From the moment of Josh's birth there were expectations to be fulfilled, rituals to be performed. . . mediocrity was unacceptable."") Married daughter Carol is docile. But the pressure to perform to Sydney's standards has driven student-daughter Rachel to the wall: ""Why can't they just believe I love them? Why do I constantly have to prove it?"" Both Josh and Rachel are riddled with guilt; Carol fights husband Alec's determination to move away from the family to the country. And soon the inevitable breakdowns begin: Josh reveals his affair with a non-Jew; Rachel confesses to be truly a-religious; Carol nears marital separation; and Sydney collapses at the Passover seder with what will be a fatal brain tumor. So finally, after Sydney's death, all the children turn to freer and ultimately happier lives. . . while Kitty accepts painful, fateful changes. With compassionate attention both to the comfortable observances of the devout and to family gatherings: a modest but moving exploration of the golden ties of family--which, though genuinely golden, can strangle the young.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1982
ISBN: 0755101219
Publisher: Morrow