Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Little Bride - A Novel by Anna Solomon

The Little Bride: A Novel. Anna Solomon. Penguin Group (USA). September 2011. 320 pp. paperback. ISBN #: 9781594485350.

Minna Losk has experienced much suffering by the time she's 16 years old. Her mother abandoned her father and her, and her father lives a tortured life between forgetting and memories that affect Minna until she lives her entire life surviving loss. Things are not much better after her father dies and she is shipped off to relatives and then a family who present as haunting, dysfunctional, and even mentally ill people. Her job is to be a serving girl. But lest one judge too quickly, these are Jewish people who live through the late 1800s pogroms in Odessa and other Russian towns. Waiting to be brutally attacked day after day after day could stretch any one's sanity to the limit!

Then Minna has the opportunity to become an American bride to an unknown man South Dakota. The journey overseas to her new home is fraught with watching people die from seasickness and starvation, with additional violent scenes to scar even the toughest character. It turns out she is about to marry into a home where the first wife has also abandoned the family, finding the wild West far too much for her grand ideas of living in America. Max's two sons, Sam and Jacob, believe Minna can never understand their past life. Their relationship is odd as they are closer in age to Minna and Max is twice her age and a religious Jew whose family believed he was going to become a famous Rabbi someday!

Minna typifies the harsh brutal life of a farmer's wife meant to help eke out a living on unyielding land, with no money to put into bettering a farm that is really not a farm. Suddenly a relationship develops between Minna and one of the sons, and secrets begin to be revealed.

While the plot seems fairly straight and even simplistic or stereotypical, there is nothing of that because of the way in which Anna Solomon takes the reader into Minna's mind, spinning stark and literate reflections with a tortured reality that defies one's idea of how much can be endurable. The Little Bride is a highly literate, uniquely lyrical account about the Jewish immigrant experience in a harsh American frontier that respects no gender, culture, or class. Remarkable novel!

No comments:

Post a Comment