Set in the Yiddish ghetto of Victorian London, the novel traces the lives of two immigrant women, both victims of oppressive male dominance, sometimes in the form of a friendship-feigning pimp, sometimes in the form of a cruel step-father, or the usurious tutor. Children are conceived, miscarried, abandoned, claimed and cherished. One woman escapes the ghetto into a cold marriage, one escapes a cold marriage, but not the ghetto.
Nattel carefully draws the setting and details it richly. I may have read too much Anne Perry to fully appreciate the care with which Nattel presents Victorian-era poverty. Or perhaps I am weary of the 'most men are bad' theme. Nattel is a good author and I am disposed to like her work, this one just didn't do it for me.
Have you read it? What do you think?
:: a year ago: summer 2007
:: two years ago: no cavities!