The Grandmothers' Club

Alan Cheuse, Author Peregrine Smith Books $18.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-87905-253-9
This is Minnie Bloch's story, as told in her twilight yearsover coffee in a shopping mall or during supper served in her apartmentto her friends Mrs. Pinsker and Mrs. Stellberg. Mostly it is about Manny, her son Emmanuel, who was a little boy when his father was killed while selling vegetables from a cart on the Lower East Side on a Sabbath. She tells how Manny's hair turned white in a single afternoon in his 17th year, when he heard his father's voice speak from a white bird flying over the tenement rooftops. About how he went to Cincinnati to study to be a rabbi, then married the daughter of his benefactor. She tells her friends, who are mothers and grandmothers too and so can understand, how her daughter-in-law lost her private sorrow in the emptiness of drink, and how Manny found some happiness with Florette, a survivor of the Holocaust. Minnie's eyesight fails over the years she tells her tale until in the end, nearly blind, she lies in a nursing home, explaining her granddaughter Sarah's confusion when Manny left the congregation for business and how Sarah's resentment grew as her father's fortunes did, and finally was the cause of his downfall. Minnie's story overflows with compassion and a profound sadness. Told in language that is earthy, lyrical and never false, it is as deep and powerful and lasting as her wisdom. Cheuse is literary critic for National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the author of The Bohemians. (October 15)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-14-010484-4
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