- Published: 2017
- Number of pages: 320 pages
- Format: Epub
- File Size: 0.41 MB
- Authors: Lynda Cohen Loigman
Brooklyn, 1947: In the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born, minutes apart. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night.
When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women 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. Moving and evocative, Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel The Two-Family House is a heart-wrenching, gripping multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.
Review “It’s hard to believe The Two-Family House is Lynda Cohen Loigman’s debut novel. A richly textured, complex, yet entirely believable story, it draws us inexorably into the lives of two brothers and their families in 1950s Brooklyn, New York…. As compelling as the story line are the characters that Loigman has drawn here. None is wholly likable nor entirely worthy of scorn. All are achingly human, tragically flawed and immediately recognizable. We watch them change and grow as the novel spans more than 20 years….engrossing from beginning to end.” ―The Associated Press(As seen on ABCNews.com, San Diego Union Tribune, Daily Mail, The Daily Journal)“This absolutely riveting book reads like a suspense novel…. The underlying complexities of friendship, the intricacies of marriage and the disintegration of family are explored in this gem of a family saga. The characters are fully drawn, and the writing is superb. This is a book that is sure to become a popular choice for book clubs.” ―Historical Novel Society“THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE takes you on a tour of dysfunction and deep and abiding love in a way that reflects the entanglements that come with a close-living family….its examination of generations of a family with their own high expectations to live up to resonates on several different levels….this very literary tale actually gives readers so much more than it may seem at first.” ―Book Reporter“Loigman nails the way family members, especially parents and children, inadvertently pierce one another with careless comments or subtle looks. As the story unfolds, we are reminded of how a split-second decision can reverberate for decades, even for generations….the real strength of Loigman’s debut effort is her characters, to whom you find your loyalty shifting as the story unfolds.” ―Jerusalem Post“Instead of detracting from the book, my uncovering of the secret’ enhanced my enjoyment of this novel―one of the best I’ve read in a long time….Who, how and why is the subject of this well-written, insightful study of human behavior…that promises good things to come.” ―Washington Jewish Week“The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman is an outsider’s look into a world filled with tension and mistrust―and most of all, secrets. [It] will make you question and make you angry―but mainly, it will make you rethink your own family history, until you are left wondering―how much do you know about your own past? And how sure are you that, without warning, your world might not be blown apart?” ―Jewish Book Council“In her first novel, Loigman uses complex characters to deconstruct the anatomy of family relationships and expose deep-rooted emotions, delivering a moving story of love, loss, and sacrifice.” ―Booklist Reviews“Peeling back the layers that surround an irreversible, life-altering secret, this novel weaves a complex and heartbreaking story about lies and love, forgiveness and family. Written from alternating perspectives of the different family members over more than two decades, the deeply developed voices will bring tears and awe, settling snugly into the heart and mind. It’s a reminder that love is always forgiving.” ―RT Reviews”In her first novel, Loigman uses complex characters to deconstruct the anatomy of family relationships and expose deep-rooted emotions, delivering a moving story of love, loss, and sacrifice.” ―Booklist Reviews“Peeling back the layers that surround an irreversible, life-altering secret, this novel weaves a complex and heartbreaking story about lies and love, forgiveness and family. Written from alternating perspectives of the different family members over more than two decades, the deeply developed voices will bring tears and awe, settling snugly into the heart and mind. It’s a reminder that love is always forgiving.” ―RT Book Reviews Top Pick, 4 ½ stars”Where Loigman excels is in capturing the time period―1950s Brooklyn. She draws gender roles accurately, even capturing the frustration of Mort and Rose’s eldest daughter, Judith, whose gender constrains her life choices. Loigman nails the way family members, especially parents and children, inadvertently pierce one another with careless comments or subtle looks. As the story unfolds, we are reminded of how a split-second decision can reverberate for decades, even for generations….the real strength of Loigman’s debut effort is her characters, to whom you find your loyalty shifting as the story unfolds.” ―The Jerusalem Post”In The Two-Family House, young sisters-in-law are thrown together in a single home, where their children live as near siblings in what on the surface seems an ideal life. Lynda Cohen Loigman plumbs the hidden world beneath the happy faces turned to the world with insight, honesty, and compassion, and in doing so explores universal truths about family, and love, and loss. I will certainly be giving a copy of this utterly charming novel to my own dearest sister-in-law.” ―Meg Waite Clayton author of The Wednesday Sisters”In a single, intensely charged moment, two women come to a private agreement meant to assure each other’s happiness. But as Loigman deftly reveals, life is not so simple, especially when it involves two families, tightly intertwined.” ―Christina Schwarz, national bestselling author of Drowning Ruth (an Oprah’s Book Club Pick) “[Full of] great skill and compassion…a novel you won’t be able to put down.” ―Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and Pretending To Dance”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 bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You”A spellbinding family saga…[and a] rare, old-fashioned read you never want to end!” ―Cassandra King, national bestselling author of The Sunday Wife“…the author’s vivid characters . . . drive the story with suspense and . . . emotional tension to make it a page turner.” ―Authorlink.com
Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:
⭐ It seems, if Goodreads is any indication, that this book is quite polarizing. Folks seem to love it or hate it. For me, however, The Two-Family House was simple a pleasant surprise. I was concerned that it might be formulaic and predictable but it didn’t, in my option, turn out to be that way at all. Cohen Loigman used a very interesting plot device to focus the reader on the long-term story arc (more about that later) and I was very grateful that she did! I truly enjoyed it and couldn’t put it down until I was finished!The Two-Family House is the story of two Jewish families (Mort and Rose and Abe and Helen and their respective children – 3 boys/4 girls) who share an up/down duplex in Manhattan. The story begins in the late 1940s in a blizzard…the last of each couple’s children is due to be born any day and, unluckily, both children arrive in the world while the women are snowed in and can’t reach a hospital. The two children, one a boy and a one a girl, are delivered at home by a midwife while their fathers are out of town on business. The sisters-in-law have always been very close and have raised their children together so, it’s no surprise to anyone that they would deliver their last babies together.Out of that weekend of surprises is born a secret that changes everything for the two families. Not only does the secret change the way that the two women interact, it has wide-reaching implications for the older children, the husbands and the new babies. What’s most interesting to me is that, Cohen Loigman does little to conceal the secret…by page 10, the average reader has it figured out…and focuses instead on the impact of that secret rather than allowing the reader to get caught up in the mystery. This transparency is the plot device that I referred to in my introduction and is critical, I believe, to ensuring that the book is not simply a predictable trope. While the initial secret that spawns this story doesn’t remain a surprise to the reader for long, there are still several plot points that caught me off guard. Because I always appreciate a story that can keep me guessing, I feel strongly that Cohen Loigman handled the story arc brilliantly. I was engaged with and delighted by her story from start to finish.Two-Family is told from multiple perspectives: we read about events through the voices of Rose and Helen, Abe and Mort and Judith and Natalie (two of the daughters.) While some have complained that they found the changing perspectives confusing, I did not and really valued the opportunity to watch time pass and events transpire from the point of view of multiple members of this family. As the book is truly focused on what happens to these relationships over decades, it felt important to me to be able to understand important developments as they are happening to all of the family members.Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cohen Loigman’s book is the fact that it left me thinking: given the same set of circumstances, an opportunity and an understanding the potential outcomes, would I have made a different decision from the one that Rose and Helen make? In reading other reviews, I’ve found that many people are decidedly dismissive of their decision and have judged it inherently wrong. For me, it wasn’t quite that obvious…in a given place and time with certain pressures and interests, I can absolutely understand what drove their thinking. While I truly believe that making decisions that result in lifelong secrets is a bad idea, I put great value on writing that can make me question my own morals and judgements.Multiple decades pass as we watch these two families grow together and fall apart…it’s a saga that allows the reader time to get to know each character and really understand what motivates them. There is no question that the adults in the story are not perfect…the men can be sexist and intractible (think Archie Bunker here), the women insufferable and selfish. There motives seem to me, however, to be good despite their genuinely flawed decisions. Ultimately, Cohen Loigman brings her story arc to a close by allowing reader to understand the impact of the women’s decisions on the lives of their husbands and, most importantly, their children.One of the best books I read this year was This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell and I think a strong comparison can be made between these two stories. While O’Farrell is the stronger writer and her book is significantly more emotionally complex, both authors, to my mind, have created generational family sagas that follow the impact of a single decision through the years. The Two-Family House is an opportunity to plumb the human psyche and witness the impact of human fallibility over time and I think we all relish stories that give us a chance to appreciate how a single moment in time can change our lives and the lives of those around us.
⭐ Spoiler Alert: the primary plot point is inferred in this review, but given that every reader will soon discover it anyway, I thought it made it easier to describe the novel. First, the author is a wonderful writer, and this is an impressive debut novel. She has the innate ability to write characters that you can immediately relate to and, though each may have their own frailties, you will end up either liking or at least understanding them. This is a rollicking family novel. It focuses entirely on the two families of the brothers Abe and Mort Berman who share a ‘two family house’, where one family lives upstairs and the other downstairs. Their wives Helen (married to Abe) and Rose (married to Mort) are almost like sisters in the beginning. They spend abundant time together, share meals, share holidays, and do almost everything else together to the point that it’s essentially one large extended family. The brothers own and run a box factory. Abe, the older outgoing gregarious brother, runs the “people side” of the business while Mort, the standoffish, taciturn brother, handles the “numbers” side of the business. Where Abe is everyone’s friend, Mort is distant, unsociable, and the sort of husband and father that runs the family by fear rather than love. In the beginning, Mort is wholly unlikable. And therein lies the plot basis for the story. Each family has multiple children; Abe and Helen have all boys, and Mort and Rose have all girls. Both fathers, but especially Mort, want a child of the opposite sex. Mort even blames Rose for the fact he doesn’t have a son, and Rose feels permanent guilt at not giving him a son and thinks if only she could have one their marriage, which is not the happiest, could be saved. Both Helen and Rose become pregnant, and Mort puts even more pressure on Rose by calling the unborn child “he” and letting her know he clearly is expecting a son. Both children are born at home on the same eventful night due to a terrible storm preventing them from going to the Hospital. That night, and the decision Helen and Rose make, lays the foundation for what will ultimately change both of their lives, and their families lives, for years afterward. As the story unfolds over a 20+ year period following that night, we see how false expectations, deception, and holding on to anger (or letting it go) can have lasting impact on both families. The story jumps forward several years in each major part as the children grow older, the families evolve, and the subtle yet telling consequences of that fateful night affect all of them in tangible ways. While Abe remains pretty much in character, Rose, Mort, and Helen evolve in different ways, and at the end you will feel you have been witness to some happiness, some sadness, and some of life’s realities. You will likely learn something from this book as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and think you will too. Highly recommend.
⭐ Those of us raised mid century well remember how families kept secrets. Small ones, big ones and even life changing ones so well chronicled in this family novel.I, for one couldn’t put this book down. Each of the main characters was so well fleshed out I could truly see them and yet, I felt there was still room to draw some of my own conclusions about their inner selves.Like so many families of the times, we watch these families migrate, (with some trepidation) from the city where they feel safe to the suburbs taking the darkest of secrets with themEven the early lives of the family patriarchs was not without sadness, stories we have heard in so many of our own. Family businesses have enriched and in some cases ruined lives and many times in secrecy.I had heard so many wonderful reviews about this book, all well deserved.Not to be missed.
⭐ Overall I thought it was a good story. The tension between the two women, was real. I was pleased that Judith was able to find her way, with the support of her cousin.I think the girl played a roll she would not have, had she stayed with her birth family. The father “saw” her, and in turn “saw” the boy he thought was his. And the connection after the boys death, gave the dad room to grow, and see this “girl” as worthy, and in turn Judith benefited…The story line that bugged me was the mother of the girls….what the heck…..she just floated away into crazy…she had a girl…husband would have been disappointed…she got the boy and still could not engage….thank God for the sister-in-law. She mothered them all….The sister in law and brother were the best! Loving, inclusive, happy…The end, for the husband and sister in law was hopeful. I guess I was glad the wife went to florida.
⭐ Two brothers own a business together and share a house in Brooklyn. Mort and his wife Rose live on the first floor with their three daughters. Abe and his wife Helen live on the second floor with their four sons. Abe, easygoing and gregarious, is a loving husband and father. Mort’s number one priority is his Jewish faith. If he gives any attention at all to his family, it is of the critical or demanding kind. Although the sisters-in-law have very different personalities, they are very close, and are raising their children as one big happy family.The book begins in the middle of a terrible snowstorm in 1947. Rose and Helen, both pregnant, go into labor at the same time. Unable to make it to the hospital, a midwife is called, and after a long and tiring night, two babies come into the world. A decision is silently made between the two women that has tragic ramifications neither could foresee.I enjoyed this book immensely. I loved the author’s writing style. The depth of the characterizations add a richness that make this my favorite book so far this year. The small but interesting details interwoven throughout will surely make it one of my favorite books of the decade. I savored each page, from beginning to end.This was the first book published by Lynda Cohen Loigman. I can’t wait to read her second one!Five gold stars!
⭐ Brothers Abe and Mort live in a two-story family house in Brooklyn, with each brother owning one story of the house. They are able to enjoy one-another’s company, and their children have friends, aunts and uncles close-at-hand, growing up feeling loved and cared-for. Then, on a dramatic, stormy winter’s night, the lives of everyone are changed. It wasn’t a dramatic change that occurred all-at-once, but a subtle shift in the family dynamics that affected everyone in the house.Told from the point of view of the four adults in the house, and the oldest daughter, the story nurturing, of consequences, betrayal and discovery, is one that will leave you thinking long after the last word is read. The vivid characters in the story reveal the mystery, and cause you to feel empathy and loss for the repercussions of one misguided choice. Yet The Two-Family House is not a sad story, but a look at times past through the intricately woven lives of the characters. Even if you think you know the answers early-on in the book, you feel compelled to quickly reach the end, to find out how the two families deal with this decision. It IS a very compelling story, and a very enjoyable read. Five stars for The Two-Family House!
⭐ I really like this novel. It seems I have read several debut novels, recently, and am excited about how good they have been. This is a story of two brothers, who live with their families in a double flat. They are all very close, until the birth of two babies, during a huge blizzard. That night changes their lives forever. Although, I had an inkling what was coming, I was just drawn into the dynamics of this family. The characters were very likable, although the brother Mort was a little neurotic and wound too tight. His poor suffering wife, wilted under his criticism, but the kids were cute.His brother Sol was the exact opposite, open, honest and everyone’s friend. His wife was the caregiver of the family. It’s a wonderful story and I was sad when I turned the last page.
⭐ This story starts off slow but picks up by the end of part one. It is told in different point’s of view. It’s a story about family and family dynamics. It’s about how people change and evolve throughout the book.Abe and Mort are brothers. They own and run a company together. They live together in a two family home with their families. In the beginning, Rose and Mort have 3 girls and Abe and Helen have 4 boys. The two women become pregnant at the same time. Rose wants a boy to please Mort and Helen longs for a girl. Helen and Rose are friends. Both babies are born seconds apart at home in the middle of a blizzard. After this relationships change and people evolve.I had a hard time getting into the book because the first part has alot of Mort’s point of view which was warped. He was jealous of his brother and thought only boys were important. I also didn’t like the way Rose changed after part one. She became bitter and angry. She ignored her children and was jealous of Helen. Mort changed after as well, he started to try to pay attention to his daughters. He realized his brother was a good man and that he loved him. He became a better person.I liked Natalie’s point of view the best. Overall it’s a good story. No mystery – just a story about what makes people do the things they do.
⭐ ‘TTwas a wonderful shaping of difficult personalities and family relationships. I got to really cherish and understand the very disparate and unique individuals as they changed and grew. Perhaps best was one father/brother….who clung desperately to MATH as the center of his universe…yet became able to feel, interact and share true love with his family. Two of his daughters were incredible in their growth, as well. Kudos to a fine authorTwas a wonderful shaping of difficult personalities and family relationships. I got to really cherish and understand the very disparate and unique individuals as they changed and grew. Perhaps best was one father/brother….who clung desperately to MATH as the center of his universe…yet became able to feel, interact and share true love with his family. Two of his daughters were incredible in their growth, as well. Kudos to a fine author.
⭐ The Two-Family House is an interesting novel with some very endearing characters. Other than the daughter, who is very strange, the characters are real, especially the group of women who meet regularly and are supportive of each other. Overall I would say it’s a light book, but I read it for my book club and was surprised at how many themes we ended up discussing. When you think about it, there’s a lot more that the author touches on than you might immediately think about. The ending was somewhat unusual and improbable, but again when you think about it, it was also inevitable.
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