Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage, with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear, and their once deep friendship 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. From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery.
©2016 Lynda Cohen Loigman (P)2016 Macmillan Audio
"Two families, both living in one house, drive an exquisitely written novel of love, alliances, the messiness of life and long buried secrets. Loigman's debut is just shatteringly wonderful and I can't wait to see what she does next." (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times best-selling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You)
"No good deed goes unpunished. In a single, intensely charged moment, two women come to a private agreement meant to assure each other's happiness. But as Lynda Cohen Loigman deftly reveals, life is not so simple, especially when it involves two families, tightly intertwined. The Two-Family House is sympathetically observed and surely plotted all the way through to its deeply satisfying conclusion." [Christina Schwarz, author of Drowning Ruth (an Oprah's Book Club pick) and national best seller The Edge of the Earth]
Initially, I wasn't sure about this one. The narration seemed flat, and the prologue set up an obvious scenario. But the author pulled off a compelling story of (2) families, close in proximity but so far apart in temperament. The narrator really nailed the dialogue. I'm glad I stuck with it !
Sometimes you make decisions you have to live with and feel uncomfortable. This book is about a family with good intentions and many secrets.
This was Linda's first book. I enjoyed the story but the writing was very simple. I am sure it will improve with future books.
I liked the story but there was just too much wrong--though it was good enough to finish.
Spoiler free review.
1. The audio narrator: Fine when there's no dialogue (and there isn't that much, oddly) but when there is, Kreinik only has about 3 only mildly distinct New York accents for about 20 characters.
2. Too many characters! Within the 2 families and extended family, most of the characters are underdeveloped or barely mentioned. I think a couple of the sons didn't even get more than one line of dialogue.
3. Time: Huge jumps in time are tricky and the author did it about as poorly as I've ever seen it done.
4. No explanation for 2 people who are as close as siblings for years suddenly being estranged. Well, you can figure it out, but a long time goes by before we even get the inner thoughts of the person who now hates the former best friend. The former best friend (who has done nothing wrong) tries for years to patch things up, and gets nowhere. And somehow there's only one person who notices? Not believable.
5. One main character starts out fairly likable and then becomes a total wretch. You can guess why in one case, know why in another, but again the lack of inner thoughts just leaves the reader/listener with scenes of the person being horrid to everyone.
6. The ending comes way too fast. After the big reveal, there's about 5 minutes of inner thought and then everything is hunky dory. I find it hard to believe anyone would be so accepting after 5 minutes when the person's whole world has been turned on its ear.
7. Too many POVs: At least 5 POVs.
8. The writing was just adequate.
All that said, it was interesting enough to make me want to finish it. I'm a fairly harsh critic, and others may not have the same issues as I did. On the other hand, my aunt (we often read the same books) is about 75% less critical than I, and when we discussed the book, she felt the same way. Though she'd have probably have given it a 3!
I found the general idea interesting but I found it hard to relate to the main characters. I was not happy with the narration and I feel it took away from the characters. The Brooklyn accent altered my opinion of both mothers and I found the main character, Rose, especially unlikable, even to the end.
How real it was.
I don't know, it was so good, it is hard to compare
He did such a great job with all the characters
Loved Abe - he was so kind and patient. And Helen was the perfect sister in law
I have to agree with NMwritergal's review with the exception of the narration. I thought the narrator was wonderful; in fact, that's what kept me listening. The story had a good premise, but it dragged as well as skipped too much time. The author used way too many verbs in the past progressive tense (was looking, was hiding), which drove me crazy. I agreed that the ending came to quickly and when the big secret was revealed, the one who was affected most seemed too forgiving. The fact that the secret wasn't evident to more people was also difficult to believe. There were several underdeveloped characters and too much telling in places I wanted dialog--like during an argument--I don't want explanation, I want dialog that will explain.
That said, the story itself was creative and endearing. I loved the two Jewish families. There were a lot of POVs, and I would have preferred the story to be told from the two sisters-in-law. Judith, the eldest daughter could have had her own story. I was drawn into hers.
All in all, it was an enjoyable story to listen to.
No, but I do think that Judith (the oldest daughter) had such a great story that I would love to hear more of her story.
Very interesting to see the relationship between 2 sisters in law , their husbands, and children, and the difference that love for one another, or the lack of, makes in their lives.
I really enjoyed this book. It's about choices people make and the unintended consequences. It's not hard to figure out the secret that drives the two mothers in this book. What makes this book great is the effects this secret has on many lives. How many choices have we made that we would change if we knew the outcome ahead of time?
If you like family dramas that make you think, you'll enjoy this book.
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