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On the day they first meet in a city playground, Deborah Laidlaw lends Toby Ruben a book called Trolley Girl, the memoir of a forgotten trolley strike in the 1920s, written by the sister of a fiery Jewish revolutionary who played an important, ultimately tragic role in the events. Young mothers with babies, Toby and Deborah become instant friends. It is a relationship that will endure for decades-through the vagaries of marriage, career, and child-rearing, through heated discussions of politics, ethics, and life-until an insurmountable argument takes the two women down divergent paths. But in the aftermath of crisis and sorrow, it is a borrowed book, long set aside and forgotten, that will unite Toby and Deborah once again.
To Frances, an only child living in McCarthy-era Brooklyn, her mother, Hilda, and her aunt Pearl seem as if they have always been friends. Frances does not question the love between the two women until her father's job as a teacher is threatened by anti-Communism, just as Frances begins to learn about her family's past. Why does Hilda refer to her "first pregnancy," as if Frances wasn't her only child? Whose baby shoes are hidden in Hilda's dresser drawer? Why is there tension when Pearl and her husband come to visit? The story of a young girl in the fifties and her elders' coming-of-age in the unquiet thirties, this book resonates deeply, revealing in beautiful, clear language the complexities of friendship and loss.
Spanning the length and breadth of the twentieth century, Alice Mattison's masterful In Case We're Separated looks at a family of Jewish immigrants in the 1920s and 1930s and follows the urban, emotionally turbulent lives of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren against a backdrop of political assassination, the Vietnam War, and the AIDS epidemic. Beginning with the title story, which introduces Bobbie Kaplowitz-;a single mother in 1954 Brooklyn whose lover is married and whose understanding of life is changed by a broken kitchen appliance-;Mattison displays her unparalleled gift for storytelling and for creating rich, multidimensional characters, a gift that has led the Los Angeles Times to praise her as "a writer's writer. "
Men Giving Money, Women Yelling is Alice Mattison-s latest collection in which the characters- lives are told in tales that overlap or echo one another. At the center of the stories is Denny Ring, a young man nobody quite knows. Other characters include John Corey, a contractor who renovates old houses in New Haven, Connecticut; his younger brother Eugene, a volunteer at a soup kitchen; and his older brother Cameron, who is a lawyer specializing in obnoxious law. John-s assistant, Tom, is in love with his former English teacher, Ida Feldman, and Charlotte LoPresti, a social worker who interviews the Corey brothers and their aged father, is friends with Pam Shepherd, a social worker who-s in charge of the house for psychiatric patients that John and Tom are renovating.
One quiet spring day in 1989, Constance Tepper arrives from Philadelphia to watch over her mother's Brooklyn apartment and her orange cat. Con's mother, Gert, has left town to visit her old friend Marlene Silverman in Rochester. Marlene has always seemed alluring and powerful to Con, and ever since Con was a little girl, the long-standing bond between Gert and Marlene has piqued her curiosity. Now she finds herself wondering again what keeps them together. Con's week in Brooklyn will take a surprising turn when she wakes to find that someone has entered her mother's apartment and her own purse is missing. Stranded, with no money, she begins to phone family and friends. By the end of that week, she will experience a series of troubling discoveries about her marriage, her job, and her family's history, and much of her life will be changed forever. In the fall of 2003, now living in Brooklyn and working as a lawyer, Con has almost forgotten that strange and shattering week. But a series of unsettling reminders and surprising discoveries--including traces of a lost elevated train line through Brooklyn--will lead to grief, love, and more questions. At last, a confrontation between Marlene and Con's daughter will unravel some of the mysteries of the past.
For years, following an early first marriage, Daisy Andalusia remained single and enjoyed the company of men on her own terms, making the most of her independent life. Now in her fifties, she has remarried and settled into a quieter life in New Haven, Connecticut. She's committed to a job she loves: organizing the clutter of other people's lives. Her business soon leads her to a Yale project studying murders in small cities. While her husband, an inner-city landlord, objects to her new interest, Daisy finds herself being drawn more and more into the project and closer to its director, Gordon Skeetling. When Daisy discovers an old tabloid article with the headline "Two-Headed Woman Weds Two Men: Doc Says She's Twins," she offers it as the subject for her theater group's improvisational play. Over eight transformative months, this headline will take on an increasing significance as Daisy questions whether she can truly be a part of anything -- a two-headed woman, a friendship, a marriage -- while discovering more about herself than she wants to know.
Two young men are swimming naked in an Adirondack lake when they hear a motor, a car appears, and two women get out, one with an orange scarf around her head. It's 1936: New York is suffering through the Great Depression, frightening things are happening in Europe, and Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz, friends since their Brooklyn childhood, are unsure about everything-jobs, lefty politics, women. After this time in the mountains, nothing will be quite the same. From World War II to the McCarthy-era witch hunts, through work, marriages, and life with children, Artie and Harold turn to each other, whether for solace or another good argument. And when Artie's daughter Brenda comes of age during the 1960s, her struggles with jobs, love, and friendship in yet another period of political turmoil recall Artie and Harold's youth. A sweeping yet intimate novel about people who never stop loving one another despite everything life throws at them, When We Argued All Night illuminates a friendship over more than sixty-five years, as the twentieth century gives way to the changed yet recognizable times in which we live.
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