Monday, December 5, 2011


Her writing may not be spectacular, but Marcia Fine knows how to tell a story. This book comprises the lives of three Jewish women—Paulina, her daughter Sarah, and Sarah's daughter Mimi. Paulina grew up in Warsaw with custom-made clothes and a house full of servants. She marries Nathan, a Russian businessman, who ventures to the U.S. and finds the allure of freedom there undeniable. Paulina, now with two children, is very reluctant to abandon her extended family and pampered life for the unknown. Finally, threatening her with divorce, Nathan persuades Paulina to join him in New York. Nathan turns out to be a good provider, even during the Depression, but is an intimidating husband and father. Daughter Sarah longs to pursue a career in photography, but Nathan has no use for artistic endeavors. Meanwhile, back in Europe, where Hitler has ascended to power, Paulina's father believes that his wealth and influence will protect him, despite pleas from Paulina and Nathan to join them in the U.S. Nathan's family of Russian peasants, on the other hand, have all come to New York, ever grateful for Nathan's financial help but never learning English. When Sarah's photojournalism job leads her to Europe after the war, she learns the sad fate of her grandparents. Inspired by the life and stories of her grandmother, Ms. Fine's novel is heartbreaking but never wallows in despair or grief. All three women lead lives of unplanned adventure, and their responses to their situations make for very captivating fiction.

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