Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Red Mansions-Cynthia Drew

Red Mansions Cynthia Drew Daniel & Daniel Publishers, May 5 2014, $15.95 ISBN: 9781564745576 At the turn of the century, following the Cossack burning of their Jewish village Lucava and murder of their parents for their dad’s seditious activities; teen Carsie Akselrod and her tweener sister Lila escape with help from disgraced Cossack Mikheladze and tavern owner Max Siegel. The siblings make it to New York living in the overcrowded Lower East Side and working at the Triangle Waist Company. Max joins them and marries Carsie (see City of Slaughter) who fulfills her dream by opening up a millinery shop and raising two daughters Sarit and Sophia. During WWI, Max joins the military and dies overseas. His grieving widow eventually marries wealthy Chat Nussbaum who becomes a loving stepfather to Carsie’s daughters while living in affluent Red Mansions. When the Great Depression devastates America leading to the closing of her shop, Jews like Carsie and her family are hit additionally hard because of their religion. Though it behooves the audience to first read City of Slaughter to learn more about Carsie’s Russian roots, Red Mansions can stand alone as an excellent historical fiction that focuses on a Jewish immigrant’s life in New York during WWI, the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. Once again character driven by courageous Carsie as she watches loved ones suffer or learn they died along with her dreams, but still she holds her head up high as she tries be there for those she cares about. Harriet Klausner

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