THE ANGEL OF LOSSES: A Novel ~Stephanie Feldman
“’And what were you born for, my eldest?’ The rebbe asked. ‘Besides bringing disappointment to your family.’”
“ I was born to put the beauty of the world onto paper. I was born to be a scribe.”
“’Ah’, the rebbe said. ‘Then you give me nothing, nothing but disappointment.’” (uncorrected proof copy page 29)
The significant theme in this novel for me was the relationship between the two sisters and how that played out throughout THE ANGEL OF LOSSES. Two New Jersey daughters, who were born four years apart, were very close all of their lives until they went to college and their Grandfather moved out of their family home to Coney Island where he died. Their Grandfather Eli took care of the girls while parents worked and told them old stories and myths but nothing about his childhood. Eli Burke was very angry about religion and especially about the Jews and their Berukhim School in the neighborhood. His son, the girl’s father was raised as a Gentile (I would have said Protestant) yet the family did not practice any faith except events like Christmas. At nineteen, Holly, the younger daughter, converts to an Orthodox Jewish Sect to marry Nathan a scribe who is older and this causes a rift between the sisters.
THE ANGEL OF LOSSES is about the heritage of WWII and Jewish Mythology highlighting the story of the Wandering Jew. Marjorie, the older sister, is actually getting her Ph.D. and her dissertation is about the Wandering Jew. Eli Burke has left his granddaughters 4 notebooks about the major parts of the myth and about his childhood during the German invasion of Russia and the destruction of his family. The notebooks are hidden and Marjorie spends her time trying to find the journals before her brother-in-law Nathan interferes with the family’s truth.
Through the author’s telling of the journey, the reader can begin to understand how the legacy of the war and loss, and the legacy of the old mythology can unleash secrets and lies which will affect and effect a family for generations to come. How guilt, secrets, omissions and childish beliefs can harm others and separate families and futures; how the actions of wars keep on destroying well into the future.
These secrets nearly cost the life of the newest baby and Marjorie must work diligently to figure out what the message is being sent to her in her dreams then find and interpret her Grandfather’s notebooks. Marjorie was destined to shed a light on these old stories and clear out the ghosts and myths which defeated family unity.
THE ANGEL OF LOSSES includes whole sections of the story of the Wandering Rabbis and that can be very interesting reading to those who do not know them. The argumentative and competitive nature of the brother in law was a bit hard to pinpoint until I started thinking of him as mildly autistic and focused on nothing relevant to the current times. He was a disappointment trying to be significant. I too had a hard time with the negativity of the grandfather’s stories and there was not enough balance about the good times they shared like pancakes at a café and park visits. These myths truly ruled his life from childhood to his death.
THE ANGEL OF LOSSES was a good read and I was very happy that TLC online book tours sent me an uncorrected proof copy for me to read.