Dear Sister

Judith Summers, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-312-18544-2
A prologue tells us that Rosa, living in England, is not only dear but the center of her sister Esther's existence, though for years Rosa hasn't answered Esther's weekly letters. The story flashes back to 1900, when Shmuel, Rosa's husband, flees to America from his Russian village, whence Rosa, pregnant and afraid to wait for the promised ticket, embarks to find him. She takes 15-year-old Esther with her, but when the ship docks briefly in England, Rosa is left behind and Esther must travel alone to Ellis Island. Beautiful and gifted Rosa makes friends and a career, without ceasing to search for her family, whereas plain little Esther hovers near poverty until Shmuel bigamously marries her. Almost simultaneously, she finds an ad placed by Rosa in a Jewish newspaper and the Dear Sister correspondence develops, governed on Esther's part by deception. For more than 60 years it continues, until Rosa, an established couturiere, refusing to be put off any longer by excuses, voyages across the sea to Esther's 80th birthday party. Because the denouement is predictable, because switching from one sister to the other reduces tension, and especially because Esther is a paltry figure whom her creator seems to despise, the reader is seldom seriously involved with either the plot or the half-formed people who move within it. December 30
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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