A sequel to Proofs of Affection (1982) - in which the London
offspring of an Orthodox Jewish couple, Sydney and Kitty Shelton,
broke out to find their own not-so-orthodox lifestyles. Now,
following Sydney's sudden death, the primary emphasis is on Kitty's
widowhood, with vignette-glimpses of the kids and the in-laws. In
the novel's first half, on her first holiday in the 18 months since
Syndey died, Kitty is off to Israel, alone on a package tour. (Her
intended travel-companion is laid up with a broken ankle.) Lots of
Israel sightseeing ensues, then, with emphasis on the
spiritual/ethnic heritage to be soaked up at Masada, on the Dead
Sea, in the Negev - though Friedman supplies a little satiric
observation (tourist traps, tacky tourists) along with the uplift.
And, since Kitty starts out as quite a devout Jew, the emphasis
isn't so much on identity-awakening (cf. Sara Davidson's glutinous
Friends of the Opposite Sex, etc.) as on Kitty's growing courage:
she's cajoled into climbing on rocks; and, above all, she very
reluctantly allows herself to be courted by American physician
Maurice Morgenthau, a concentration-camp survivor who horrifies
Kitty with his non-kosher eating. . . but, with one touch of his
hand, sends "the blood coursing through veins which, since Sydney's
death, she had imagined dry." Meanwhile, family crises are waiting
for Kitty back in England. Her brother-in-law Leon is terminally
ill. Sister-in-law Freda has received an anonymous note about her
dear husband Harry's alleged infidelity (and even a paternity
suit). Kitty's nephew Norman is overcoming an unhealthy attachment
to his now-deceased mother, working his way free to fail happily in
love with divorcee Sandra. And, while Kitty's new daughter-in-law
Sarah is converting to Judaism, the major action centers on the
upcoming wedding of Kitty's daughter Rachel: the rich, ostentatious
parents of the groom have insisted on a huge, fancy wedding - so
there's lots of tsuris about each detail. . . until the big day -
when wedding-guest Maurice arrives from America with a scary
marriage-proposal for newly-adventurous, still-timid Kitty.
Friedman (author of last year's drippy A Loving Mistress) arranges
things far too neatly and predictably here; her prose is often
bland, mushy, over-explanatory; and Maurice's letters to Kitty -
about the Holocaust and Jewish identity - are pompous, pretentious
intrusions. Still: a not-unwelcome footnote to the zestier Proofs
of Affection - with enough recognitions re family, widowhood, and
Jewishness to provide low-key, haimish appeal. (Kirkus Reviews)
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