September 11, 2006 12:00 PM

By Jennifer Gilmore



This deliciously old-fashioned saga traces succeeding generations of Jewish-Americans as they fulfill their individual American dreams. In one tightly knit 1920s Brooklyn neighborhood, Joseph’s brother Solomon disgraces his family by becoming a bootlegger; Frances’s sister disgraces hers by marrying Solomon. Though Frances secretly loves Joseph, she marries a scientist who later develops the television camera—with financial backing from Seymour, Solomon’s former henchman, who’s renounced the mob to become a theatrical producer. The resentments and misunderstandings among this cast of characters come to a head decades later, when Joseph’s daughter marries Seymour’s son. Gilmore’s chapters are jam-packed with historical facts about the mid-20th century intersection of business, the arts and technology. But the novel’s heart beats with the pulse of human intersections and the missed connections of its well-drawn characters.

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