By: Judy Levin
By Deby Eisenberg
Reviewed by Judy Levin
Eisenberg once again delivers a story that imparts some history lessons through the lives of interesting and sympathetic characters as she did in her first novel, “Pictures of the Past”. Paige Nobel, 12 years old, is the only survivor in her family of a random and brutal act of violence in Chicago, 1962. A beloved but estranged uncle, world-renowned photojournalist Maxwell Noble, comes to the rescue, and with tender love and care brings her to live in his Gold Coast apartment. From this lofty view to the family’s Lake Geneva estate and back in time to the Eastland Disaster of 1915, the Nobel-Weiss family story begins to unfold. Paige always wondered why her beautiful French-speaking mother, Celine, held herself apart from the general world of their community in Winnetka. Celine also never spoke of her family, and most emphatically refused to observe or acknowledge her Jewish identity, religion or past, and refused to allow her husband Mitchell Noble to practice Judaism in their home or teach it to their children.
Paige’s coming-of-age story ensues with her continuing and brilliant education, loving care and attention from Uncle Maxwell and housekeeper Gladys, and budding romance with David Bronstein. The missing pieces that reveal the secrets and mysteries buried with the deaths of her mother, father and brother begin to unravel once Paige discovers the diary and photos hidden in her mother’s old chest, locked up in the attic in their Lake Geneva home.
Paige and her Uncle Maxwell follow the clues leading them to search for a family member left behind in Europe. Their suspicions lead them to search for a child, a baby girl named Cherise, born to Celine and given up for adoption during the tumultuous years of WWII. Paige would desperately like to find this mysterious half-sister to share her life with, and Maxwell Noble has reason to believe this phantom child may be his daughter. The long story of Maxwell and Celine meeting during the War, their intense yet brief love affair, and their later reunification as sister-in-law/brother-in-law become fascinating family revelations for Paige.
The outcome of Maxwell and Paige’s search, who and what they find, are best left to the reader to discover as the pages turn faster and faster to the conclusion. Several twists and turns keep readers alert as secrets are revealed and histories shared. Although you may see the marriages, family reunification and happy futures for these characters coming as the book arrives at its end, readers will rejoice and celebrate with them under the final wedding canopy.
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JUDY LEVIN - Book Reviews
Judy Levin has been facilitating discussions with book lovers for nearly 35 years. With a teaching degree and an English major put to excellent use, Judy currently facilitates and moderates discussions for 30 groups including libraries, organizations and private groups. A life-long Chicago land girl, Judy is a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. Follow Judy on Twitter @JudyLevinBooks and Facebook and see what’s trending and newsworthy.