Tracing three generations of a Southern Jewish family, this remarkable debut novel peers into deeply rooted family secrets, explores the complex love between sisters, and celebrates the constant human struggle to keep one's history alive. Set in the Carolinas, it tells the stories of three sets of sisters, each of whom shares a delicate closeness that is shattered by secrets and truths, by matters of faith, and by long-held resentments. This beautifully rendered novel raises penetrating questions about filial love, marriage, and belonging.
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Judy Goldman's first novel, The Slow Way Back, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Fiction Award and the Mary Ruffin Poole First Work of Fiction Award, and was a finalist for the Southeast Booksellers Association's Best Novel of the Year. She is also the author of two books of poetry. Her work has been published widely in literary journals, and her commentaries have aired on public radio. She and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina. They have two married children and twin granddaughters.From Publishers Weekly:
Evolved from personal essays Goldman delivered as an NPR commentator, this poignant debut novel plumbs the rift created by parental favoritism in a Southern Jewish family plagued by buried secrets and resentments. The heroine, Charlotte, N.C., radio therapist Thea McKee, recalls trying on her mother's wedding dress at the age of 10Aand her usually adoring mother's violent reaction. The incident leaves questions in Thea's mind that deepen as she matures. She wonders why her father favors her sister, Mickey, why her mother has bouts of depression. When she is in her 50s, a packet of her grandmother's letters come into Thea's hands. They open doors to the past, reminding her of her Jewish roots (almost forgotten in an interfaith marriage) and her Southern heritage (almost invisible in the midst of modern city life). Answers come slowly: first Thea must find someone to translate the letters, written by her grandmother in Yiddish in the 1930s, when Grandma Bella lived in Denmark, S.C., and sent to her sister in Pennsylvania. Even then, the letters are confusing, and she must seek explanations from her chatty yet uninformative Aunt Florence. With an ear for rhythm and an eye for imagery, Goldman artfully presents Grandma Bella's simple, stilted prose, typical of a woman of her generation and immigrant background. Bella's correspondence conveys quotidian details, but a postscript to one of them holds a clue to a traumatic eventAand the answers to Thea's questions. Convincing detailsArecipes, clothing, endearments, jealousiesAdistinguish three generations of sisters as old wounds are reopened, intimacies shared and prejudices combated. Despite some first-novel pitfalls (easily guessed mysteries, overly emotional epiphanies), Goldman's vivid sensory descriptions and psychological honestyAespecially sharp when Thea remembers the last illnesses of her parentsAmark her as a touching storyteller and an astute observer of human nature. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. Author tour. (Sept.)
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Book Description William Morrow Paperbacks, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060957891
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