The Singing Fire by Lillian Nattel
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!