REVIEW: THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE, BY LYNDA COHEN LOIGMAN

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The two Berman brothers, Abe and Mort, began sharing the control of their father’s company after his death. Mort was not as enthusiastic about having to leave college to join the company, but at least he had the number crunching job, which utilized his mathematical abilities, while Abe was the people person.

Their home lives were very connected as well. They shared a two-family house in Brooklyn…they got a great deal on the price of it, and it suited their family lives.

Living on the top floor with his wife Helen and their four sons, Abe was happy. Helen enjoyed the close proximity to Mort’s wife Rose, and the two became good friends. Mort and Rose had three daughters. Mort was often grumpy and annoyed at the noise Abe’s sons made as they clumped around upstairs. Was he just envious of Abe’s sons, while he only had daughters?

Then the two women got pregnant again, and their due dates were within days of each other.

One night when a blizzard cut off transportation and closed down ambulances, Rose went into labor. And then Helen’s water broke. They eventually discovered a midwife nearby…and she came to save the day.

Rose’s oldest daughter Judith, who was twelve at the time, was helping out. But something happened that night that changed the connections between the two women, and altered all of their lives forever.

The Two-Family House was set in the 1940s, and the roles the characters played in their lives and in their marriages were typical of the times. What would the events of that stormy night do to each of the mothers, and how would everything that had happened impact their marriages, their children, and their futures?

I enjoyed how the passage of time, with alternating narrators, revealed the effects on each character. I was especially fond of Judith, who was bright and had a sense of something having gone awry that night. Would her connection with Natalie, who was Abe and Helen’s daughter, cause her to take a closer look at events?

The story traversed time, from the 1940s to the 1970s. I like the saga that unfolded, showing us the strengths and the challenges of each family member. A memorable read. 4.5 stars.

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CREATING A NEW LIFE FROM OLD WRECKAGE — A REVIEW

After living in the old, genteel building in Brooklyn throughout his marriage, Harry Quirk has come to take his life there for granted. But throughout his thirty year marriage to Luz, there have been turbulent shifts beneath the seemingly placid surface of their union that have finally broken through and disrupted the balance. Luz has kicked Harry out, accusing him of infidelity with his friend Marion, and despite his innocence, she will not hear anything that challenges her strong belief system.

As Harry struggles to manage his life on the “outside” of The Astral, while searching for anything and everything that can somehow redeem him in Luz’s eyes and allow him back into the marriage and the home, he gradually begins to form a new kind of life for himself.

Meanwhile, grown children Karina and Hector grab Harry’s attention, with their lifestyle choices and the dissonance created by their values.

I enjoyed immersing myself into the Brooklyn world of these characters, feeling as though the streets they walked and the neighborhood haunts they visited were vivid and real enough to be part of my own world…at least for awhile.

What unexpected moments suddenly illuminate Harry and help him face up to the path he must take? And how does he finally confront the differences between himself and Luz enough to let go of the failed dream?

Told in the first person narration of Harry, The Astral: A Novel offered a realistic portrayal of life from his perspective. I could feel his angst, his concerns, and see, through his eyes, the realizations he reached.

Five stars.