The Riv"/>

THE SINGING FIRE

Lilian Nattel, Author . Scribner $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4966-9

Two determined Jewish runaways strive for better lives in chaotic turn-of-the-century London in Nattel's rich and lovingly written second novel (after 1999's The River Midnight ). Seventeen-year-old Nehama, who arrives from Poland in 1875, is quickly tricked into prostitution and brutalized by her boss, the squire. She escapes that sordid life—which Nattel unflinchingly, chillingly portrays—when she's taken in by a young couple in Frying Pan Alley. She becomes a skilled seamstress and eventually marries a kind tailor who knows little of her past. In 1886, Emilia, privileged but pregnant and unwed, flees her cruel father and weak mother back in Minsk. Nehama's and Emilia's paths converge when Nehama prevents the ruthless brothel owner who enslaved her from doing the same to Emilia. Emilia, who's posing as a widow, lodges with Nehama, but soon breaks under the drudgery of London's ghetto life. Leaving her newborn daughter with Nehama, who is unable to bear children after two miscarriages, Emilia decamps to London's Soho, where she works as a shop girl and catches the eye of Jacob, a successful Jewish writer who thinks the "golden-haired and gray-eyed" Emilia is a gentile. Both women are haunted by the pasts they conceal from their men, and sometimes comforted by beneficent ghosts: into this story of struggle and assimilation, Nattel skillfully weaves the guardian spirits of Nehama's grandmother and Emilia's father's first wife. The pacing is leisurely, and the prose is lovely, leavened by subtle humor and infused with intelligence. Agent, Helen Heller. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/12/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-307-37068-6
Hardcover - 321 pages - 978-0-676-97600-7
Paperback - 321 pages - 978-0-7432-4967-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-676-97601-4
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.