by Amy Gottlieb (Harper Perennial) ISBN: 9780062383365
This is Gottlieb’s first novel however she is a renowned poet and story-teller. Here she has created a story within a story and developed characters through a rich context. This is a rarity in modern popular fiction.
The novel offers up the lives of three Jewish characters over seventy years. Walter witnesses the death of his father and fiancé at the hands of Nazi’s during the Second World War. Grief-stricken and lost he boards a ship to Shanghai but follows a man in a brown felt hat into the spice markets of Bombay. Later he follows the same man to New York where he meets Sol Kerem, a dedicated Rabbinical student, and his beautiful and spirited fiancé, Rosalie.
Throughout the novel Gottlieb seamlessly moves the reader between the viewpoints of Walter, Sol and Rosalie to offer depth to each character with a simultaneous balance of empathy for each. The subtle twist at the end reminded me of the palpability and breadth of each character’s own story. It is brave and beautiful if a little unexciting.