The Caretakers

Bernard Mathias, Author Viking Books $17.95 (221p) ISBN 978-0-670-82127-3
Winner of both the Prix Hermes and the Prix Bonardi in France, this lyric first novel focuses on a Jewish boy stumbling into manhood in Paris in the aftermath of World War II. Daniel is caught between conflicting worldsthe carefree meadows of the French countryside and the demands of the Torah placed before him while still in his highchair. His parents are Holocaust survivors; his sister Edith, 10 years older, was born in the shadow of the concentration camps. When the family moves to Paris seeking a better, more Jewish life, Daniel wants only to escape the grinding Sabbaths and the chanting in the synagogue where his father is sexton and above which they live, four in a tiny room. Edith breaks away from this suffocating universe through an arranged marriage to a cantor from London, leaving Daniel to cope alone with his obsessive, orthodox father. Steeped in religious ritual and the Holocaust memories his parents live out every day, he matriculates at Nanterre. Only after he falls in love with a Christian woman does he begin to reconcile his two lives. Together they journey to the village in Transylvania where his parents were born. This moving, first-person narrative resonates with Daniel's vitality and his struggle to find his proper place. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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