Nightingale Saga Yose

Sholem Aleichem, Author Putnam Adult $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-399-13098-4
This bittersweet tale of Yosele, a young cantor whose voice blesses all who hear it, takes him, still adolescent, from his Polish village and his lovely Esther to city synagogues and prayer houses sophisticated beyond his comprehension. Unprepared for the adulation of the rich, enticed from tradition and ritual, he falls prey to the fancied charms of Perele the Lady, is led to the wedding canopy and thence to pampered idleness. Gossips having informed her of Yosele's defection, Esther is persuaded by matchmaking Tante Yentl to marry Alter, a widowed money-lender, thus freeing herself and her mother from their bleak poverty. But when the vows are said and the dancing is at its wildest, Yosele returns, suddenly consumed with longing for his only love. His sanity gives way, he falls sick, and the noises that issue from his once golden throat are those of a dog or a crow. While Esther fades, Yosele wanders from town to town, flickering on the edge of madness. In this second of Sholom Aleichem's novels, first published in 1889 but never before translated into English, the sacrifice of these two innocents on society's altar is relieved by pungent vignettes of village life. November 11
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 00/00/0000
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