This engaging family saga about the Mevorachs, a Jewish family from Saloniki, spans several decades and portrays one of the major Jewish experiences of the 20th century - immigration and the attempt to strike roots in a new homeland, Israel. However, the Mevorachs` attempt is only partly successful, for the family disintegrates and some of its disillusioned members return to Europe to seek happiness in the continent that turned its back on them.
At the start of the novel, Saloniki is a vibrant city with a large Jewish community. In the wake of a huge fire that burns down the Mevorach family home, the youngest daughter dies and the father, an ardent communist, disappears. With the rise of fascism in Europe, anti-Semitism raises its head and the family emigrates to Tel Aviv, with the exception of Moise -
the youngest son - who goes to Marseilles. The family settles down in a large house in Tel Aviv and opens a textile store; some time later, Moise joins them but turns to his own business ventures. The Salonikian family is something of an anomaly in the Tel Aviv landscape, where Ashkenazi - European - Jews rule the roost. The daughters marry Salonikian partners, as do the two sons who run the family store, while Moise - who always goes his own way - marries a young woman from Vienna who dreams of a career as a pianist. After the war, Tel Aviv is filled with survivors, but Fleur, the wife of the eldest son Raphael has lost all her family, who remained in Saloniki during the Holocaust. Soon after the State of Israel is established, Moise decides to return to Europe because he cannot find his place in Israel. His wife Gerti calls him an opportunist, and she and their daughter Tillie stay behind. But some years later, they decide to join Moise in Antwerp and Tillie becomes a famous singer, performing in concerts throughout Europe.
The reader is drawn into the story by its power and quality…
Ouziel-Blumenthal’s book succeeds in enthralling and fascinating the reader.
Anyone who loves sagas and refined, quiet writing will enjoy this novel.