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Length: 304 pages
What they say: Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.
When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost, but not quite, wins. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.
The Review: I have to admit I loved this book and recommended all around me. The story begins with a prologue, a dark introduction that drew me in instantly. As you can see, set in the 1940’s, we meet two families, led by two very different sets of parents- one seemingly over positive, the other more subdued, more cautious about enjoying life. Chirpy Abe and Helen have all boys, Mort and Helen all girls, and we get the idea that there’s one of each couple that want what they don’t have, be it a daughter or son.
The two brothers run a cardboard manufacturing company in Brooklyn and I loved hearing of their daily grind, with Mort despairing of his brother Abe’s positivity. There are alternating voices with such simple language and occurrences that reel you in. You know as you read that nothing is as it seems and yet I was still surprised as the story unfolded.
The babies are born and everything changes and I loved the gradual shift in dynamic in the house, the surprises in the characters you could connect with and those who shocked you and I was excited as I read as to the outcome of this simple yet complex story.
All in all simple everyday occurrences that stayed with you and characters that I adored mixed with heartbreaking, live changing events that tested the fabric these people were made from. There was festering bitterness in the book and a secret in the back of your mind that you just HAD to figure out.
The characters that I loved stuck with me after I’d finished, as did the lesson on what it is to be a truly good person and there were some great people here, some you knew starting out, others that surprised you. A special mention to their older, all seeing, most perfect at being not perfect, Judith. I adored her. I’m not sure that this review will do this book justice but very much highly recommended. My only regret is the price, which I have to mention, is quite high at over nine pound and so it may be one to put on the wish list. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.