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If I Told You Once

Budnitz, Judy

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ISBN 10: 0312202857 / ISBN 13: 9780312202859
Published by Picador USA, 1999
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

First Edition (first printing). The first novel by the author of FLYING LEAP, the story of four generations of women who come from an Eastern European village to the tenements of an American city. Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in Britain. Fine/Fine. Signed by Budnitz on the title page. Bookseller Inventory # 72630

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Bibliographic Details

Title: If I Told You Once

Publisher: Picador USA

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


In her sparkling, startling novel about mothers, daughters, and love, Judy Budnitz gives the traditional folktale an electrifying twist as she follows four generations of women from an Eastern European village to the tenements of an American city.

Ilana, eager to escape her formidable mother's all consuming love, embarks on an epic journey to the New World, met along the way by evil, magic, and good fortune. The daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter who follow in her footsteps share her special powers of observation and, often, destruction. The result is a family saga unlike any other: a hilarious, heartbreaking story of family ties that bind.

With dazzling imagination and spell-binding storytelling, Judy Budnitz confirms her status as one of her generations most talented and original voices.


Judy Budnitz's debut novel, If I Told You Once, introduces us to Ilana, a peasant girl living sometime at the beginning of the 20th century, in an unnamed European town so gray that "the color of an egg yolk is something of a miracle." This is a place as timeless and vivid as fairy tales, with figures from Russian folklore cast against real-world horrors like rape, cannibalism, and genocide.

Not to say that all is gloomy in Budnitz's world. That's certainly not the case for Ilana, who is inspired to escape her environs for America, the only place with an actual name in the whole book. Here, Ilana's voyage turns into an immigrant's story of poverty, love, and loss. Budnitz also abandons much of the magical realism that fuels her tale's first 100 pages. What replaces the nonstop parade of wonders is a narrative device--suddenly the story is told from the point of view of Ilana's daughter, Sashie; then by Sashie's daughter, Mara; and finally by Nomie, Mara's niece.

As each woman speaks her mind on the American experience and the wounds of the heart, what emerges is a multi-generational saga that not only traverses time and geography, but sensibility as well. The novel is so well paced that the four narrators manage to keep up with the times without having to lean too heavily on cultural benchmarks like world events, slang, and references to pop songs. Budnitz's method is much more integrated, gently conveying a sense of time and tradition slipping away.

Even as Sashie and Mara dismiss the magical stories of Ilana's youth as fabrications, these tales resonate through a novel of great mythic weight. Here, nothing less than the modern world is ushered into being through the voices of girls who become lovers, lovers who become wives, and wives who become mothers. Miracles, indeed. --Ryan Boudinot

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This is a single proprietorship, owned and operated by William C Leone Jr, 2408 Chelsea Road, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, USA. The email address is and phone number is 310-377-2628. Payment by check, money order, VISA, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal. Member, ABAA. California residents add 9.00% sales tax.

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