Wednesday, August 13, 2014

[Book Review] The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

The Angel of Losses
The Angel of Losses
The Tiger's Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli's notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather--and her family--comes undone. To find the truth about Eli's origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli's past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can-and cannot-escape.

Filled with family traditions, culture, and Jewish folklore, The Angel of Losses is definitely a book you do not want to miss. Jewish myths and legends are very unfamiliar to me so reading about the White Rebbe and get to know the actual rituals was really interesting. 

In the book we are introduced to Marjorie, a young woman who lost her grandfather but always been close with him ever since she was little. Ghost stories always fascinated her so when she gets ahold of her grandfather's notebooks filled with stories that tie closely to Jewish myths, she loses herself in the research to try and find the truth. Meanwhile, she is getting further away from her family, especially her sister. Will this bring them together? Can her dreams really mean something? Marjorie goes through centuries worth of history to find the answers. 

The Angel of Losses was definitely not what I expected. This type of subject is usually too slow for me but I actually really enjoyed it. The element of a man who appears through the centuries and an old man showing up to Marjorie, intrigued me. Cultural genre is very new for me but this book has definitely made me want to look into it more.


Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and her daughter.

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