New York Stories: Kate Wenner’s Setting Fires (Scribner) follows a New York filmmaker investigating two fires that dominate her life….Lynn Sharon Schwartz’s In the Family Way (Haiper Perennial) peeps in on the sexual and social lives of an extended family in a building on the Upper West Side.
Historically Speaking: Nomi Eve’s The Family Orchard (Knopf) introduces 200 years of sprightly women in Jerusalem….Roman author Angela Bianchini explores exile through an Italian Jewish woman who flees in 1941 in The Edge of Europe (Bison Books)….In Katie Singer’s sensitive debut, The Wholeness of a Broken Heart (Riverhead), four generations of women carry the painful Jewish history in Europe and America.
Coming of Age: A cheeky narrative, Julianna Baggot’s Girl Talk (Pocket Books) follows Lissy Jablonski, 30, in her memories of a slapstick summer and her musing on becoming her mom….Andee Hochman’s Anatomies (Picador) introduces lively young women on the verge of finding their unusual places in the world… .Molly Jong-Fast (daughter of Erica Jong) debuts with Normal Girl (Villard), a tale of growing up in the fast lane.
Lives and Letters: The work of therapist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann (fictionalized in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden), her marriage to Erich Fromm and escape from the Nazis are chronicled in Gail Hornstein’s biography, To Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the World (Free Press)… .In Einstein’s Daughter, Michele Zackheim’s pursuit of a vanished girl drives a damning portrayal of the famous Albert….The first complete edition of Hannah Arendt’s biography, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess, explores German-Jewish identity through the 18th century salon hostess. The love affair between Arendt and her husband is now public in Within Four Walls; The Correspondence between Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Bliicher (Harcourt)….Linda Hunt Beckman revives an activist feminist and English woman of letters in Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters (Ohio State)….Women in Scripture, a dictionary edited by Carol Meyers, describes every named and unnamed women in Jewish and Christian texts (Houghton Mifflin).
From the Ivory Tower: Two new studies look at women’s “purity.” Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Reconstructions of Biblical Gender (Stanford) by Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert argues that commentary on women’s bodies associated women with the home and excluded them from rabbinic study halls. The essays in Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law (Brandeis), edited by Rahel R. Wasserfall, explore the debate around impurity…..Anthropologist Susan Sered’s What Makes Women Sick? Maternity, Modesty, and Militarism in Israeli Society (Brandeis), investigates why “Israeli women are sicker and die younger than their counterparts in other western countries.
Oy Vey: The book What To Do When You’re Dating a Jew might help the neophyte date but indulges in stereotypes galore: the Jewish mother “knows that her input is crucial” on tuna salad or your weekend plans, and while “the mother is in charge of the home, the father is charged with being the breadwinner.”