Rich in historic detail, this boilerplate immigrant family epic focuses on three Jewish sisters struggling to make something of their lives over 40 years of births, deaths, work, domestic abuse and two world wars. Gerber (The King of Brooklyn) focuses on the passions and cross-cultural currents whirling around Ava, Musetta and Gilda, the three daughters of Rachel, a Polish Jew who arrives on New York's Lower East Side in 1906. Rachel, still in thrall to Old World ways, brings little Ava with her when she confronts her philandering husband, Nathan. Nathan ditches the family, only to appear decades later after Ava marries Len, a smalltime Prohibition-era gangster. Ava's younger sisters, Musetta and Gilda, lock horns over everything from boys and a pet dog to war volunteer efforts. Unfortunately, the early 20th-century immigrant streets of New York are heavily traveled, and there's little to distinguish this novel from the crowd. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
In this book, Merrill Joan Gerber continues to display her remarkable talent.
A prequel to Gerber's award-winning The Kingdom of Brooklyn(1992), this work explores the lives of Rachel and Rose, immigrant sisters whose unsatisfactory husbands and arduous lives on New York's Lower East Side become a template for the lives of Rachel's three daughters and her granddaughters as well. Individual chapters are narrated from the very different perspectives of the four main women characters. We see thwarted loves, betrayals by relatives, and the poverty that marks their lives. Both Rachel and her daughter Ava marry for security rather than love; Rachel's spoiled daughter Musetta deliberately weds the man her sister Gilda loves. World War II brings catastrophic changes, taking brothers and sons. Gerber's unblinking portrait of immigrant Jewish lives during the first half of the 20th century creates a realistic view of the complexities of families who for better or worse manage to stay connected by swallowing resentments, coming to terms with life, and trying to achieve some measure of contentment. Recommended for large public libraries and those serving Jewish communities.
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I picked up this book and could not put it down. I finished it in a day, and then immediately started reading it again a second time. Wonderfully written, and just a fantastic book. This is the first work I have read from this author, but I am definitely going to make sure to read the rest of her novels ASAP.