Author: S.B. LERNER

Publisher: On the Edge Books

ISBN: 9780975285350

In all likelihood, after you have read S.B. Lerner's A Suitable Husband, some of you might say, didn't I read a similar book before? Probably, however, it is Lerner's credible dialogue put into the mouths of her characters that make this yarn sound original and genuine as it depicts the intense inner feelings of the protagonist and her supporting actors. Readers will come away feeling the uncertainty of the times during the horrendous Hitler era of the 1930s and 40s.

Narrated through the eyes and ears of idealistic youth, Lerner presents a stunning portrayal of a Polish-Jewish family who, like so many other Jews living in Europe at the time, believed that they were fully integrated into Polish society and nothing will happen to them.

The cast of characters include Danka, her good-for-nothing gambling husband Herman, her twins, Bianca and Nathan, and her daughter, Eva. Poverty stricken, Danka is being continuously hassled by her antisemitic landlord. And as a result of the national boycott against Jewish merchants, she can hardly eke out a living sewing and selling her shawls.

Her husband, whom she chose without interference from her parents, is no prize package as he is a gambler and squanders her hard earned money. Nonetheless, she manages to secretly hide from him the wedding monies for Bianca.

Even though her experiences with Christian Poles has not been exactly cheerful, Danka nonetheless still believes in the equality of Jews and Poles. Unfortunately, as she will discover, nothing could be further from the truth.

Her son, Natan is determined not to accept the bullying he had been experiencing at the hands of antisemitic thugs and uses his new found boxing skills to teach them lessons they will never forget.

Her eldest daughter, Bianca is not exactly in agreement with her mother when it comes to choosing a husband and refuses to accept the antiquated custom of arranged marriages. And moreover, to show her independence, she becomes a member of the Guardsmen, a daring and organized Zionist group who are set on beginning a new life in Palestine.

Romance takes over and Bianca falls madly in love with the group's young leader, Wolf. Danka, however, engages a marriage arranger (shadchan) who lures Bianca into the arms of Alex, a young serious doctor who has no intention of moving out of Poland. Will she marry Alex and remain in Poland, facing the rising tide of antisemitism or will she risk going to Palestine?

A Suitable Husband is a readable and thoughtful novel as Lerner skillfully evokes the mood of the era while at the same time interweaving a great deal of unexpected thrills and suspense. This is an impressive debut novel that effectively portrays intense feelings coupled with the harshness of facts. And as author Karen Casey Fitzjerrell aptly stated: “Lerner is a master at moving from the unsettling political scene to the equally unsettling turmoil of young love....”


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