The Book of Tziril: A Family Chronicle

Bess Waldman, Author Adama Books $17.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-55774-016-8
This hefty saga of Jewish life in the Russian Pale of Settlement, chronicling deaths and marriages, brief periods of prosperity and prolonged ones of separation, focuses finally upon Tziril and her daughter Hinda. Tziril is married in mid-19th century to Yussel, who begets Hinda and Esther and leaves for America. When Esther dies, he returns home, pleads with Tziril to go back with him, but cannot persuade her to forgo either the prescribed period of mourning or the planned journey to the Caucasus (called here Kafkaz) to visit her long-lost half-sister Bayla. After seven years there, learning to make wine and inheriting the presses after Bayla's death, she and Hindaby now a beautiful young womanjoin Yussel in Jersey City. Since a corps of their relatives have preceded them, small rivalries ensue, often founded on jealousy of Hinda and her swift rise to prime eligibility in the marriage market. Hinda is independent enough (and pretty enough) to choose for herselfand to defy her strong-willed mother. Less a novel than the nonagenarian author's reminiscences, with Yiddishisms, family names and holiday rituals lovingly inserted, this is a nostalgic portrait of two women, steadfast in their loyalty, unremitting in their labor. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1981
Release date: 01/01/1981
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