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THREE DAUGHTERS

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Author
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $24 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-27660-7
Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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Augmenting a prolific career as memoirist, commentator and editor (she was a founding editor of Ms.), Pogrebin has crafted a first novel that embraces her favorite themes. (Her most recent nonfiction titles—Deborah, Golda and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America and Getting Over Getting Older—could serve as subtitles for this book.) The eponymous daughters are the progeny of Rabbi Sam Wasserman, whose impending return from Israel to the States for his 90th birthday proves a defining event for his family. Leah, the oldest, born of Sam's first marriage to crazy Dena, knows it's now or never to reconcile with her father. Brilliant and brooding, a dark star of second-wave feminism, Leah touchingly metamorphoses into a different brand of strong woman, able to appreciate and lean on her less doctrinal sisters. Rachel, the second in line, is Sam's stepchild, the daughter of Sam's second wife, Esther, who was his great love. Adopted and adored by Sam, Rachel has inherited his ardor for the Torah. As the novel progresses, she is transformed from a needlepoint-working, factoid-spouting rich man's wife into a flinty divorcée heading for the seminary. As for Shoshanna, the youngest, born to Sam and Esther, "[her] challenge was simply to accept that the woman she was was the woman she would likely remain—intrepid, cautious, decent, and fundamentally content with her lot.'' Talky, smart, hopeful and empathic, this will be a must-read for Pogrebin's contemporaries. Agent, Phyllis Wender. (Oct. 17)

Forecast: Pogrebin already has a well-established public persona and can count on a built-in audience for her first novel. Her recent tenure as president and spokesperson for the Authors Guild and a 22-city author tour should garner her additional recognition.

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