Night Train to Mother

Ronit Lentin, Author Cleis Press $24.95 (219p) ISBN 978-0-939416-32-5
Appropriating the tragic history of pre-Holocaust Eastern European Jewry, this generational saga is a U.S. debut for Lentin, an Israeli native residing in Ireland. Through the travails of the Laxes, the author spotlights the singular lifestyles of well-to-do Orthodox Romanian Jewish families of the era, which were often headed by strong-willed, bread-winning matriarchs. Wed to a scholar at the turn of the century, Dora Lax becomes a successful businesswomen but is sexually unfulfilled; her street-smart daughter Rosa likewise finds that her lovemaking is devoid of an erotic ``flutter.'' The political events of the two world wars and rampant anti-Semitism will displace and impoverish the Laxes and their children; Rosa and her husband immigrate to Palestine in 1940 and become members of a lost generation, forever guilt-ridden that they avoided Hitler's slaughter while friends and family suffered or perished. Lentin treads familiar fictional ground as the bland Lax clan reveals itself through personal and political attachments. The novel displays verve and freshness only when Lentin moves to 1975 to describe the lonely, spartan existence of Rosa's younger sister, Hetti, a disaffected Communist and reluctant Israeli. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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