Happy Wednesday! Today I have a review of Not Our Kind, a new historical fiction title from Harper Books!
It seems like I was just writing a review for another World War II story, and in fact I was. Not Our Kind stands out because of its unique perspective on being Jewish in a post-WWII United States.
To set the stage, two women are brought together by a chance encounter in Brooklyn two years after the war. Eleanor Moskovitz is Jewish and a teacher. She meets Patricia Bellamy whose challenging teen daughter, Margaux, needs a tutor due to being diagnosed with polio. Conditions are so uncomfortable for Jews at this time that Eleanor has to use a different last name to enter the Bellamys’ building, and she spends ample time worrying about what Mr. Bellamy thinks of her, and even sometimes Patricia because she never knows just where she stands. Nonetheless, she easily forms a bond with Margaux, and that’s why she’s there.
Patricia’s brother makes a visit, and he and Eleanor hit it off. At the same time, the true friendship between Eleanor and Patrica grows stronger until something happens to put it all in jeopardy.
I found the sense of time and place interesting in Not Our Kind with the recovery efforts combined with the stagnant feelings about groups of people that had not yet changed. Patricia and Eleanor, especially, were champions in this book. They each come into their own and offer insight when hopefully change was on the horizon. The writing is charming and sophisticated, and I enjoyed Zeldis’ storytelling with the unique perspective of post-WWII fiction. A tale of unlikely friendship, Not Our Kind is a must-read for historical fiction fans.
Many thanks to the most generous Harper Books for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
With echoes of The Rules of Civility and The Boston Girl, a compelling and thought-provoking novel set in postwar New York City, about two women—one Jewish, one a WASP—and the wholly unexpected consequences of their meeting
One rainy morning in June, two years after the end of World War II, a minor traffic accident brings together Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Their encounter seems fated: Eleanor, a teacher and recent Vassar graduate, needs a job. Patricia’s difficult thirteen-year-old daughter Margaux, recovering from polio, needs a private tutor.
Though she feels out of place in the Bellamys’ rarefied and elegant Park Avenue milieu, Eleanor forms an instant bond with Margaux. Soon the idealistic young woman is filling the bright young girl’s mind with Shakespeare and Latin. Though her mother, a hat maker with a little shop on Second Avenue, disapproves, Eleanor takes pride in her work, even if she must use the name “Moss” to enter the Bellamys’ restricted doorman building each morning, and feels that Patricia’s husband, Wynn, may have a problem with her being Jewish.
Invited to keep Margaux company at the Bellamys’ country home in a small town in Connecticut, Eleanor meets Patricia’s unreliable, bohemian brother, Tom, recently returned from Europe. The spark between Eleanor and Tom is instant and intense. Flushed with new romance and increasingly attached to her young pupil, Eleanor begins to feel more comfortable with Patricia and much of the world she inhabits. As the summer wears on, the two women’s friendship grows—until one hot summer evening, a line is crossed, and both Eleanor and Patricia will have to make important decisions—choices that will reverberate through their lives.
Gripping and vividly told, Not Our Kind illuminates the lives of two women on the cusp of change—and asks how much our pasts can and should define our futures.
Have you read Not Our Kind, or is it on your TBR? Have you read any other books about post-WWII in any country? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR