The Two-Family House

The Two-Family House

by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Overview: 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.

Elaine Marlin (01/04/17): One reason I was excited to read this new book is because it is Lynda Cohen Loigman's first novel! That is always important to me. This was a book presented by the author at the Miami Jewish Book Fair. I missed this particular event. Long wait for the library book, but it did come. This author had a story in her for so long, and finally this book is the result.

The time frame is 1947 through 1970, mostly in Brooklyn, but near the end, the locale was on Long Island. There are two brothers, not particularly close, but who own a cardboard box company together. They both marry, and eventually the two families live in a two family house. Children come into their lives. The wives become very close, like sisters. All is well. One brother, Mort, is a sour, dour man, who has not been happy his whole adult life. He is a good provider, but not affectionate or warm. His brother, Abe, who lives upstairs, is the opposite. Happy about everything, content in his marriage, with four sons. His wife Helen, is a blessing, and a wonderful wife and mother. Mort's wife Rose, is there in body, but her spirit is missing.

Life goes on, and one night, in the middle of a severe blizzard, each mother has a baby. It is a very tough time for Rose, who adamantly wanted to deliver in a hospital! That was impossible due to the weather. A midwife was available, and the births went well! I will not say anything more except, when you finish the book, go back and read the prologue. You may get chills!

The author is very descriptive in describing personalities, strengths and weaknesses of various family members, and chapters are titled by each of the main characters names, i.e. Rose, Helen, Mort, Abe, Judith, Natalie. The readers can see which years events take place. I maintained my interest the whole way through, and feel like I was a fly on the wall during some of the tense scenes. I enjoyed this book.
Rating: ****

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